The Lions surprised a lot of people by just missing out on the final playoff spot in 2022. Today they caught Bears fans off guard when they agreed to sign David Montgomery. Detroit is signing the former third-round running back to a three-year contract worth $18 million, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported Tuesday, per sources. The agreement, like all the other free-agent deals the last two days, is pending league approval. That’s just a formality, however, and Montgomery’s tenure with Chicago has ended.
I watched David Montgomery come to CHI as a young man that was quite & reserved. Over his time in a #Bears uni, I saw him grow into a leader & heck of a RB. Thank you for everything you did for the city @MontgomerDavid. Wishing you nothing but the best in Detroit. #Yessirskiii 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/my8WDVmM7y
— Jarrett Payton (@paytonsun) March 15, 2023
Montgomery never failed to eclipse 800 yards on the ground and was the lead rusher in each of four of his seasons with the Bears. His finest season came in 2020 when he posted 1,070 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 4.3 yards per carry, plus 54 receptions for 438 yards and another couple of scores. Those numbers were career highs for Montgomery across the board.
He split time with Khalil Herbert the past two seasons, mostly due to injuries. Herbert ascends to the top of the depth chart with rookie Tristan Ebner serving as his backup. The Bears have to tender a contract to Darrynton Evans by 3:00 PM CT tomorrow afternoon or he will become a free agent. GM Ryan Poles could find a replacement for Montgomery in free agency or in next month’s draft. One option is Jamaal Williams, who played for the Lions last season.
Detroit’s addition of Montgomery likely signals their readiness to move on from Williams. The six-year veteran broke the single-season franchise record for touchdowns with 17 last season. That eclipsed the mark previously held by Barry Sanders. Montgomery and Williams have disparate styles, so the Lions must like the idea of pairing the former with D’Andre Smith.
The Bears have the No. 9 pick in the draft and should be able to select Texas standout Bijan Robinson if they like him. Robinson actually reminds scouts of Sanders and is the top running back available, though he is not expected to be chosen until the 18-24 range.
Most analysts figured the Bills, Chiefs, or Eagles might have been a better fit for Montgomery. Today’s announcement was therefore somewhat surprising. Additionally, Chargers’ standout Austin Ekeler has asked to be traded. He’s been linked to each of those teams, as well as the Bears. It’s unlikely Poles would pursue Ekeler if he was unwilling to meet Montgomery’s demands. Ekeler is also in the final year of his contract and would cost Chicago draft assets Poles is unlikely to surrender.
In addition to Williams, Miles Sanders is available and he will not be returning to the Eagles. Devin Singletary of the Bills is available too, as is D’Onta Foreman. Poles has about $50.5 million in cap space available if he wants to pursue any of them. Williams is a fit for Chicago’s offense, and the Bears have met with his agent. That said, running back is not a high-priority need because the Bears like Herbert.
If the Bears are looking for a backup and pass on B-Rob, they’ll have several options. The following backs will be available in later rounds of the draft.
- Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama
- Zach Charbonnet, UCLA
- Devon Achane, Texas A&M
- DeWayne McBride, UAB
- Tank Bigsby, Auburn
- Kendre Miller, TCU
- Tyjae Spears, Tulane
- Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State
- Sean Tucker, Syracuse