Trying to fill void at left tackle, Bears look to aging star Jason Peters

  • Eagles offensive tackle Jason Peters looks on during a football game Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Philadelphia. Peters, 39, has started 16 games just once in the last four years, but if he is even close to the nine-time Pro Bowler he was during his prime, the Bears offense has gotten a lot better.

    Eagles offensive tackle Jason Peters looks on during a football game Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Philadelphia. Peters, 39, has started 16 games just once in the last four years, but if he is even close to the nine-time Pro Bowler he was during his prime, the Bears offense has gotten a lot better. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 8/15/2021 6:10 PM

While Justin Fields was making his NFL debut Saturday in the Bears' 20-13 exhibition victory over the Miami Dolphins, general manager Ryan Pace was sequestered somewhere at Soldier Field taking another big swing of his own.

We are still awaiting official word from the Bears, but coach Matt Nagy acknowledged it in his postgame news conference and his agent has been all over the news announcing that 39-year old and future Hall of Fame left offensive tackle Jason Peters is now the newest Chicago Bear.

 

We're talking now about the biggest concern on the Bears depth chart, left tackle, where the team previously had nothing but question marks.

Teven Jenkins was drafted in the second round after the Bears traded up from 52 to 39 to get him presumably to be a plug and play rookie starter at the position, even though he played primarily on the right side in college. He has yet to participate in a single moment of training camp due to back issues, and we have no idea how serious they are.

Elijah Wilkinson was signed after a journeyman career in Denver with 26 starts over four seasons, again almost all of them on the right side, and it was assumed he'd either compete there or be the backup swing tackle, but now he is No. 1 on the depth chart at left tackle.

Wilkinson's current backup is this year's fifth-round pick, Larry Borom, who was clearly drafted to play on the right side or possibly at guard but has shown surprisingly nimble feet and is working on the left side out of desperation.

Add starting right tackle Germain Ifedi, who has spent all of training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list, and the position is a complete mess.

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Desperate times call for desperate measures and that's why you sign a 39-year-old former star who's been on the street since the end of last season and started 16 games just once in the last four years.

Nagy insisted that the Peters signing has nothing to do with Jenkins' status or any of the current concerns about the position telling us, "It really doesn't have anything to do with Teven, but it's about familiarity with a guy that's played in this league for a long time and he's very good.

"We understand that he's older. We get that.

"We know that there's a history with (offensive line coach) Juan (Castillo); Juan worked with him several years ago in Philadelphia and I knew him when I was there."

"If that's going to provide more competition and somebody that played last year and did well when you watched the tape, we like that."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

That is all perfectly reasonable, but let's be honest here. The position has been a black hole for the Bears for several years now and if that's how the Bears feel, why didn't they bring Peters in last March to get him in their program, know that he's in shape and already have the playbook down?

I'm not questioning Nagy's honesty or integrity -- NFL coaches often have to spin their own truths to keep all their employees happy, healthy and focused.

But there's just no way this is happening now if Jenkins is healthy and Wilkinson looks like he can play on the left side too.

Asked if he thought Peters is coming here to be a backup and mentor these younger tackle prospects, Nagy gave a pretty firm no.

"No. I think he's coming in here to compete to be the left tackle."

As much as Nagy often talks about finding out the why's of issues to get them fixed, the bottom line here is it really doesn't matter why the Bears are signing Peters now.

If he has anything left and even just resembles the nine-time Pro Bowler, four-time All Pro (2 first team and 2 second team) he has been during the golden age of his position, the Bears offense just got a lot better.

What does anyone have to lose?

• Twitter: @Hub_Arkush

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