Chicago Bears can't forget about the offense

  • Bringing Robert Griffin III in on the cheap as the backup quarterback wouldn't be a bad move by the Chicago Bears.

    Bringing Robert Griffin III in on the cheap as the backup quarterback wouldn't be a bad move by the Chicago Bears. Associated Press

Updated 3/23/2016 7:44 PM

So far in free agency, right tackle Bobby Massie remains the only addition to a Chicago Bears offense that was 21st in total yards and 23rd in scoring last season.

But the Bears also re-signed several of their own offensive players, including wide receivers Alshon Jeffery (franchise tag) and Marc Mariani, tight ends Zach Miller and Rob Housler and running back Jacquizz Rodgers.


As free agency slows down, Bears general manager Ryan Pace isn't finished tinkering on that side of the football, so expect more additions with next month's draft.

The Bears also signed New Orleans restricted free-agent tight end Josh Hill to an offer sheet, and the New Orleans Saints have until Sunday to match if they want to keep the three-year veteran.

Here's a look at the Bears' offensive needs:


Pace has done an effective job in free agency shoring up the team's most obvious weaknesses. So much so, some mock drafts have the Bears taking Jay Cutler's successor, Jared Goff or Carson Wentz, should either slip to the Bears' spot at No. 11.

The Bears are one of 32 NFL teams that will not pay Ryan Fitzpatrick the $18 million per year he's seeking, and Robert Griffin III is the best of what's left on the market and the most intriguing. Bringing RG3 here on the cheap wouldn't be a bad move, since Bears backups David Fales and Matt Blanchard aren't projected as future NFL starters.

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Offensive line:

Massie allows three-time Pro Bowler Kyle Long to return to his best position at right guard, where he can dominate.

Those two, along with left guard Matt Slauson, are set in stone, but left tackle Charles Leno and center Hroniss Grasu need to step up their performance from last year if the O-line is to make significant strides in 2016.

Grasu started eight games at center as a rookie last year. If the Bears don't believe he's ready, they could kick the tires on Stefen Wisniewski, who has missed just three starts in five years and is only 27.

Notre Dame's Ronnie Stanley could be a plug-and-play starter at left tackle if he falls out of the top 10. The draft talent at center is mediocre, but it's still better than the guard crop.

Running back:

In late February, Pace and coach John Fox seemed comfortable with Jeremy Langford and Ka'Deem Carey taking over for Matt Forte. But two weeks later the Bears made a play ($19 million over four years) for Denver restricted free-agent running back C.J. Anderson, who later re-signed with the Broncos.


That left some to wonder how committed the Bears really were to their two fourth-round draft picks (Langford in 2015, Carey in 2014). It also left some wondering why they informed Forte they wouldn't bid for his services but were willing to spend much more for Anderson than what the New York Jets gave Forte ($12 million for three years).

Rodgers is a change-of-pace option and young Senorise Perry has great special-teams value, but both ended the season on injured reserve.

Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott is the only surefire first-rounder at a position that has been devalued by the proliferation of passing.

Wide receivers:

The presumed top four -- Jeffery, Eddie Royal, rookie Kevin White and Marquess Wilson -- missed a combined 35 games in 2015. All four are back, and super-sub Mariani was re-signed. If everyone stays healthy, and first-rounder White plays to expectations, this is a strength.

After last year's injury epidemic, adding depth might be a good idea. Big, tough Anquan Boldin is 35, but he could be valuable insurance.

This year's draft class is OK at wide receiver, but nothing close to the past two, which were superb.

Tight end:

The draft is weak here, and the free agents are picked over.

With 6-foot-6, 265-pound Martellus Bennett gone, Miller is the Bears' No. 1 pass-catching tight end, and Housler caught 84 passes over two years (2012-23) for the Arizona Cardinals. Undrafted rookie Khari Lee saw minimal duty (127 snaps) as an extra blocker in 2015.

Missing from the group is a big, physical, in-line blocker, although practice squadder Gannon Sinclair (6-7, 270) could be a factor.

• Follow Bob's Bears reports on Twitter @BobLeGere.


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