An already big day at Halas Hall continues, as Josh Sitton‘s 2018 option has been declined, according to reports.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) February 20, 2018
This decision follows news that Chicago will be dropping middle linebacker Jerrell Freeman. The Bears will be losing two captains. As mentioned above, this will give Chicago an extra $8 million to work with this offseason, along with the roughly $3.5 million dollars dropped with Freeman.
Signed at the beginning of the 2016 season, Josh Sitton gave Chicago a Pro Bowl level guard opposite of our other Pro-Bowler Kyle Long. He got himself to a third straight Pro Bowl in 2016, even with missing three games. In 2017, we saw another solid season, with him starting 13 games.
In the last two seasons in Chicago, Sitton has done well, so some may be wondering why would the Bears make this move. Mainly, Chicago has plenty of options besides Josh Sitton, the first one being sticking with what they have in house.
The Bears could go into camp deciding that guards Eric Kush and Jordan Morgan can compete with each other. We could also see another season of lineman switching position, with perhaps Cody Whitehair being bumped out to guard from center.
Quenton Nelson was the first name to pop into my head when this was first announced, and I know that I am not the only one to do this. If Chicago went with Nelson in the first round, then we may get a guard that could be a perennial Pro-Bowler.
Some fans’ first reaction is that it is way to early to draft a guard at pick eight. What convinced me with him was watching some of his film. Personally, I have never seen more dominance at the college level guard position than while watching his film. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed watching film more than when I viewed Nelson’s film. I couldn’t stop smiling, he’s that much fun to watch.
The comparison for him on NFL.com is the great Larry Allen, and I don’t think anyone would complain about having a new Larry Allen. The relationship with Harry Hiestand also fuels the Bears interest and connection in Chicago. It would not shock me at all if Chicago made this pick. If the Bears decide that they don’t want to spend a first round pick on a guard, than Will Hernandez out of UTEP or Isaiah Wynn out of Georgia could be great options.
Ryan Pace has shown before that he likes to sign those who he or someone close to him has relationships with. Zach Fulton, who started 12 games for the Chiefs last season, has the obvious link with new head coach Matt Nagy. Fulton can come in and play guard or center in Chicago, which will give them the flexibility to do what they want with center Cody Whitehair. We could also see a guy like Justin Pugh signed if Chicago decides they want to pay big for a lineman, but I would say that’s unlikely.
Letting Sitton go maybe hard right now, but it can lead to great things in the future. Chicago has the opportunity to fix this problem quickly, and set up better for our window. While Sitton is playing great now, it is better to try and replace him before he loses his ability to play and we have no quality reserve options.
Chicago could be prepping for a big free agency period, as with all of these cuts, they will have plenty of money to spend. This move could set Chicago up to fix other needs, like the wide receiver position. It would not surprise me to see Ryan Pace sign a big name with all this extra cash.