Guard was one of the main positional needs for the Bears coming into the 2013 offseason, and the need really came into focus in the last few days when Lance Louis chose to sign with the Dolphins in free agency.
I really expected Louis to re-sign the Bears, as I didn't think he'd get much interest (or at least a decent offer) as he's coming off a torn ACL. And the Bears were known to want their most consistent offensive lineman from last season back. But, Louis indeed felt he got a better offer/opportunity than he'd get with the Bears (who don't have much cap space to work with), and chose to take his talents to South Beach.
Well, it didn't take Phil Emery long to find a replacement for Louis. The Bears and free agent guard Matt Slauson agreed to terms on a one-year deal on Friday:
LM: #Bears have agreed to terms with former Jets guard Matt Slauson on one-year contract.Slauson, 27, was the Jets' starting left guard for each of the last three seasons. The 2009 sixth round pick out of Nebraska got a +2.5 from Pro Football Focus in 2013, and they ranked him their ninth-best guard on the free agent market. They liked Slauson much more in pass blocking than run blocking, and that's something I can live with given the Bears' awful pass protection over the last few years.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) March 29, 2013
The 6'5", 315-pound guard turned down offers from the Jets and Raiders according to Brad Biggs.
Here's more on Slauson, including quotes from Emery:
He did not allow a sack in 2012 and helped the Jets rush for 2,374, 1,692 and 1,896 yards in his three years as a starter.Source: ChicagoBears.Com
"We are excited that Matt will be a Bear," said general manager Phil Emery. "He brings physical play and smarts to the offensive guard position and to the offensive line as an overall unit. His size, strength and power will allow him to challenge for either of the starting guard positions."
If the season were to start today, the Bears' starting offensive line would likely look like this:
Left tackle- Jermon Bushrod
Left guard- Matt Slauson
Center- Roberto Garza
Right guard- Gabe Carimi
Right tackle - J'Marcus Webb
Backups include tackle Jonathan Scott (although I think he will challenge for the starting right tackle job in camp) and promising second-year guard James Brown.
Carimi looked solid at right guard late in 2012, but I think there's a very good chance the Bears' first or second round pick could still be a guard and challenge Carimi for the job. If Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper is sitting there at No. 20, I'd have to think Emery would have a difficult time passing them up.
But, with the Slauson signing, the D.J. Williams and James Anderson signings at linebacker, and the Kelvin Hayden signing at cornerback/nickel back, Emery now has the flexibility he was hoping for entering the draft. Emery can feel pretty comfortable taking the best player on the Bears' draft board at No. 20.
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