The Bears announced they were declining Massie’s option for the 2021 season, making him an unrestricted free agent. The Bears’ starting right tackle for the past five seasons, Massie made huge strides in Chicago after coming over from the Arizona Cardinals.
Due to the salary cap changing for the 2021 season, Massie is one of many cuts which are going to happen around the NFL this offseason. Several cuts have already been announced, but more are on the way.
The Bears were going to part with either Massie or Charles Leno, or maybe even both, before the offseason is over. First and foremost, it’s about saving money. However, the close second reason is due to a blatant decline in play for Leno in particular. Massie’s issue is his recent struggle to stay healthy.
Needless to say, Chicago needs an offensive tackle or two before they take the field in 2021. But, didn’t they need one last year as well?
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Going into the 2020 NFL Draft, most would have assumed the Bears come away with at least a mid-round tackle to compete with Leno or Massie. Offensive line was a major need, and Ryan Pace had to address it.
Instead, Pace skipped offensive line altogether in the first six rounds before finally taking seventh round fliers on two guys whom would never make an impact: Lachavious Simmons and Arlington Hambright.
Pace got lucky that Sam Mustipher and Alex Bars were able to step up in place of some injuries last year, but this year will be different. The Bears are not only declining Massie’s option but also not bringing back Rashaad Coward.
Frankly, neither one of them should have been brought back, so Pace is making the correct call with both. But, that means this year’s draft has to see the Bears take a serious approach when it comes to the offensive line.
Look, the Bears may end up with a quarterback like Russell Wilson if the stars align. But, even if they don’t, Pace has to find a better quarterback solution. His job depends on it.
That quarterback, whomever it is, must be protected. Without Massie, Pace absolutely must take an offensive tackle in the first three rounds next month. There is zero excuse for him skipping out on offensive line until the later rounds this year.
Pace likes to get cute and try to be the smartest man in the room at times with some of his picks, but he had to be kidding himself if he thought Simmons or Hambright were going to offer this roster anything of real value.
Leno is the best offensive tackle on the roster right now, and even if you count Bars as a potential tackle, that still holds true. Bars is better suited at guard, and should offer Chicago some great depth there going forward.
Tackle remains a question, and it is now more important than ever for Pace to take this position seriously. This is a position that successful teams have locked down, but the Bears haven’t drafted an offensive tackle higher than the fifth round since 2011. That has to change, and it has to change this year.