NFL Rumors: Chicago Bears Continue To Re-Work Offensive Line With The Signing Of Josh Sitton, Also Adds Kicker Connor Barth
The Chicago Bears continued to revamp its offensive line late on September 4, agreeing to a three-year deal worth $21.5 million deal according to Alex Marvez of Fox Sports. Josh Sitton reportedly will receive $10 million in guaranteed money.
— Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) September 5, 2016
Sitton was released by the Green Bay Packers as the team trimmed their roster to 53 players on Saturday. The 30-year-old had started 110 of 112 games for the Packers since 2009 and is a three-time Pro Bowler. He was due $6.45 million this year, and had been battling back issues the past couple of seasons.
Last year, Sitton graded out as the sixth-best guard in the NFL, according to the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus. He received a strong 91.1 pass blocking grade (tied for fourth-best in the NFL) with a still respectable 81.2 mark on running plays.
Sitton is slated to start at left guard for the Bears opposite of Kyle Long, which could give the team the best and priciest guard tandem in the NFL, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Long signed a four-year, $40 million extension ($30 million guaranteed) on Saturday. The 27-year-old has not been able to practice since injuring his shoulder in Week 2 of the preseason, but is said to be pushing to play against the Houston Texans in Week 1 of the regular season.
With Sitton’s arrival, 2016 second-round selection Cody Whitehair will likely be pushed to the bench, ESPN noted. Whitehair started at left guard all preseason although he also practiced at center. Veteran lineman Ted Larsen is projected to start at center, replacing the injured Hroniss Grasu – who will miss the entire season with a torn ACL. Larson came over to the Bears this offseason from Arizona, as did starting left tackle Bobby Massie. Charles Leno is expected to start at left tackle, where he started 13 games in 2015.
Whitehair, Eric Kush, Amini Silatolu, and Mike Adams are the other offensive linemen on the Bears’ 53-man roster. Chicago claimed Kush, along with cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc, off waivers on Saturday. Silatolu and Adams also came over to Chicago this offseason via Carolina and Pittsburgh, respectively.
Inquisitr reported that Kush is strong at the point of attack as he has the ability to keep rushers from penetrating up the middle. However, the 26-year-old is relatively inexperienced with just 10 games of NFL experience. He appeared in seven games for the Los Angeles Rams in 2015.
— dan durkin (@djdurkin) September 4, 2016
Chicago finished 1-3 this preseason, as the Bears struggled offensively as they did in 2015. Chicago averaged just 12.5 points and 250 yards of offense over the four preseason games. The Bears managed only five touchdowns, 61 first downs and were 17 of 55 (30.9 percent) on third down conversion. In addition, they averaged 3.7 yards per carry and the offensive line permitted 13 sacks.
Last year, Chicago ranked 20th in scoring with 20.9 points a game. The Bears were 21st in offensive yards and 23rd in passing yards, though they were 11th in rushing yards. Chicago’s o-line allowed 33 sacks, which was tied for the 11th fewest in 2015.
The Bears also have a new starting running back this year as star back Matt Forte moved onto the New York Jets this offseason. That means youngsters Jordan Howard, Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey will get to demonstrate what they can do. Howard led the team with 173 yards this preseason on 36 attempts (4.8 yards per carry) while Langford, who is the likely starter, racked up 79 yards on 18 attempts (4.4 ypc).
Who's the #Bears young buck?
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 4, 2016
In other news, the Bears moved on from the franchise’s all-time leading scorer with the release of kicker Robbie Gould on Sunday. Chicago signed Connor Barth to a three-year contract to replace Gould, who converted 85 percent (276-323) of his field goals and 99 percent of his extra points (379-383) in his 11 seasons with the team. The 34-year-old — the ninth most accurate kicker in league history — struggled at the end of last season, making two of his last five field goal attempts. He was five of six on his field goal attempts this summer, but missed a pair of extra point attempts in the preseason finale against Cleveland.
Thanks for 11 great seasons in the blue & orange, Robbie. pic.twitter.com/m31YCAYHrV
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 5, 2016
Barth has been in the league since 2008. The 30-year-old has knocked 84.7 percent of his field goals (139 of 164) through the uprights, and is 164 of 165 on extra point attempts for his career. Barth spent training camp and the preseason in New Orleans, but lost the kicking competition to Kai Forbath.
Last year, Barth played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and made 23 of 28 field goals with a long of 53 yards. He was also 25 of 26 on his extra points attempts, and he had touchbacks on half of his kickoffs.
Chicago also filled seven of their 10-man practice squad yesterday with the signings of QB Matt Barkley, TE Ben Braunecker, WR Daniel Braverman, LB John Timu, CB De’Vante Bausby, TE Jason Weaver, and RB Senorise Perry.
[Photo by Rick Scuteri/AP Photo]