Chicago Bears signing Larry Ogunjobi goes against the grain

Chicago Bears (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Chicago Bears (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) /

NFL free agency is off to a wild start, with some huge contracts being handed out and a handful of rosters going all-in on a Super Bowl run. The Chicago Bears are not one of those teams.

However, that was to be expected under first-year general manager Ryan Poles. We’ve learned, by now, that Poles was never going to make 2022 free agency a big period for the Bears.

He’s been more adamant that the Bears will be patient, waiting to add value through the second wave, while also sorting through his current roster, still.

On the first day of legal tampering, though, Poles did make a splash with his very first signing as general manager. The Bears agreed to terms with former Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, who will come in as the team’s starting 3-technique in Matt Eberflus’ 4-3 defense.

By signing Larry Ogunjobi, Ryan Poles and the Chicago Bears went against the grain of the majority’s expectations.

A defensive tackle was not the expected first signing by the Bears, no matter who you asked. Most would have assumed Poles to go hard after some offensive linemen, maybe a cornerback, and of course a wide receiver.

Instead, we saw several players at those positions head elsewhere within the first few hours. The Bears, meanwhile, signed Ogunjobi to a 3-year deal worth $40.5 million — a hefty chunk of change, making him the 9th highest-paid defensive tackle in the league.

While the majority assumed Poles would start filling other holes, he went the other way and stuck to his guns. Several rumors and whispers suggest that Poles has been sticking to his price limit on many free agents and refusing to overpay.

Ogunjobi, though, was worth paying for. That all-important 3-technique is a key position in Eberflus’ defense, and it had to be filled after the team allowed Eddie Goldman and Akiem Hicks to go free. Think of Ogunjobi being Eberflus’ version of a young Tommie Harris.

For those unfamiliar, Ogunjobi is still just 27 years old and is coming off a career year. As an interior lineman, Ogunjobi represents the polar opposite of what Goldman could do. You’re looking at a strong, athletic interior lineman who can rush the passer and wreak havoc in back fields.

As Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times pointed out via his Twitter, the Bengals’ run defense improved from 29th to fifth last year in yards per game and from 31st to 13th in yards per attempt. Of course, Trey Hendrickson had a hand in this, too. But, between the two of them, this Cincy defense took off.

Ogunjobi being the first Bears free agent deal means that Poles doesn’t care about the national narrative or their opinion; how they would have done things. Very few people pegged Poles for going after a higher-priced defensive tackle — but he did it, because he believes in the importance of that position.

More. 5 players Bears can target with Khalil Mack trade comp. light

We will see what the next deal or two look like, but from this one, we can gather that Poles will continue to be patient and stand firm in finding his guys at his price.