Bears sign RB Montgomery to rookie deal

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery signed his 4-year rookie contract on Friday. Montgomery can earn close to $4 million over the life of his slotted rookie contract.

    Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery signed his 4-year rookie contract on Friday. Montgomery can earn close to $4 million over the life of his slotted rookie contract. Associated Press

 
By Arthur Arkush
arthurarkush@profootballweekly

Bears top pick David Montgomery's summer break is off to a nice start. The third-round running back officially signed his four-year rookie contract on Friday, one day after the completion of Chicago's offseason program, in which his versatility increasingly was evident.

Montgomery, whom the Bears selected 73rd overall in April after moving up 14 spots in a trade with the New England Patriots, can earn close to $4 million over the life of his slotted rookie contract. The 73rd overall selection a year ago, Miami Dolphins LB Jerome Baker, signed a contract totaling $3.8 million with a $975,200 signing bonus, per spotrac.com.

With Montgomery under contract, only sixth-round CB Duke Shelley remains unsigned among the Bears' five-man draft class. That's surely a welcome change for GM Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy after the 29-day holdout last year by first-round LB Roquan Smith wiped out the eighth overall pick's entire training camp and preseason.

Although the Bears are expected to use a committee backfield, Montgomery, the ex-Iowa State All American who exceeded 1,000 rushing yards and led college football in forced missed tackles each of the past two years, is the favorite to replace former Pro Bowler Jordan Howard, who was traded in March to the Philadelphia Eagles.

"David's personality is, he's introverted. He's quiet. But he's so driven, and you can just see how competitive he is and he wants to be perfect on every single play," Nagy explained. "So he's going to practice the way he plays -- and he's making plays. We always knew he had great hands. You don't know with these college backs how great of route runners they are. But he's a really good route runner."

Montgomery's receiving chops, which the Bears have maintained since his arrival might be a bit underrated, were on full display during Wednesday's practice. He made a tremendous catch over his head that showed off his natural hands and concentration, and as a receiver, Montgomery threatened every level of the Bears starting defense.

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"Just the versatility -- how versatile it is," Montgomery told PFW of his biggest impression thus far of Nagy's offense. "How open it is to different positions, to move in different areas of the field. So that's really the big thing."

For Montgomery, who grew up in an impoverished part of Cincinnati, Ohio, and didn't always know where he'd lay his head or find his next meal, signing his first NFL contract likely feels that much sweeter.

"It's a comfortable bed," Montgomery explained earlier this week of his current living situation in the team-issued apartment. "When I grew up, I didn't have beds a lot of the time. So I'm grateful. I'm good."

Summer bookkeeping:

The other order of business the Bears completed as they broke for a five-week break prior to training camp was signing OL Jordan McCray on Thursday. The 6-foot-3, 320-pound first-year player from Central Florida took ex-Bears PK Chris Blewitt's spot on the 90-man roster after participating in the three-day veteran minicamp on a tryout basis.

McCray, 27, originally signed with the Green Bay Packers as a 2014 undrafted free agent and most recently spent time with the Carolina Panthers last offseason. The identical twin of Packers reserve OL Justin McCray, Jordan joins a crowded competition to earn a backup job on an offensive line that returns all five 2018 starters.

• Arthur Arkush is the managing editor for Pro Football Weekly. For more on the NFL, visit profootballweekly.com and follow Arthur on Twitter @arthurarkush or @PFWeekly.

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