NFL free agency is still a month away, which means that teams have the right to exclusively negotiate with their own impending free agents until March 13th. However, a recent report from ESPN’s Field Yates states that Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery is likely to hit the open market and sign elsewhere in free agency.
— Ben Devine (@Chicago_NFL) February 11, 2023
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David Montgomery Not Expected to Return to Chicago Bears
This news shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to Bears fans. While Montgomery spent the past four years as Chicago’s primary running back, the team is embracing a rebuild and likely won’t be ready to compete before the 26-year-old running back starts slowing down. Additionally, the team already has a young running back in Khalil Herbert that has looked great in limited opportunities, as well as a seemingly endless amount of cap space to address the position. On top of that, Chicago will probably have a lot of picks soon after they trade out of the first-overall pick, and they could use one of their excess selections to find their running back of the future.
Montgomery isn’t a superstar by any stretch of the imagination, but the past few seasons have proven that he is a starting-caliber running back in the NFL. While he might not drive up a bidding war, he’d be a great fit on a team in the midst of their championship window with a need at running back.
Teams With A Need
One such team that fits the description plays in the Super Bowl tomorrow. The Kansas City Chiefs found a way to get by with Isiah Pacheco and Jerrick McKinnon, but it’s clear that they want better options. Montgomery would easily be the best and most proven back on the roster.
Alternatively, Montgomery could sign with the Buffalo Bills. James Cook showed some signs of life last year, but it’s highly unlikely that the team will go into the season with Cook as their top option. With Devin Singletary also set to hit free agency, Montgomery would be a great choice to split snaps with Cook and provide a reliable three-down presence in the event of injury.
Additionally, there is a chance that a cap-strapped team like the Carolina Panthers goes after Montgomery. While this team is definitely not in contention for a Super Bowl, they need to find a cheap starting running back. D’Onta Foreman performed admirably in relief of Christian McCaffrey, but there is a strong chance the team would prefer the younger and most experienced Montgomery. Currently sitting $9.5 million over the 2023 salary cap, Carolina can’t afford to spend up on the position, and Montgomery would make sense as a cost-effective starter.
Possible Backup Work
Of course, there is a chance that David Montgomery won’t fit a starting job away from the Bears. There are a lot of good running backs out there, both in free agency and the NFL Draft, so Montgomery might have to adjust to life as a backup, at least for one year.
If that happens, the most logical fit is the Los Angeles Chargers. Austin Ekeler is a great player, but the running back is entering his age-28 and can’t possibly do this forever. The rest of the depth chart leaves a lot to be desired, and the Chargers have too many other team needs to justify devoting too many resources to the backup running back position. Assuming he’s cheap, Montgomery would make perfect sense to both lighten the load on Ekeler and take over in the event of injury.
On that same note, the New Orleans Saints would probably also be interested in signing David Montgomery to a backup deal. Much like the Chargers, the Saints have an aging three-down running back, and absolutely nobody of note behind him. Alvin Kamara is starting to show his age, and he probably shouldn’t be getting 250+ touches per season anymore. Montgomery is clearly an upgrade on present-day Mark Ingram, and New Orleans has always preferred using two running backs when they have the talent to do so. Even though they’re currently $57 million over the salary cap, the Saints have the resources to clear up a lot of cap space, so they should be able to make the money work on a potential David Montgomery signing.
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