Chicago Bears lose out on 1 key free agent defensive lineman, add 2 more

Chicago Bears (Photo by Rob Leiter/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Rob Leiter/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bears started out their free agency period by signing veteran defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi from the Cincinnati Bengals, but after a failed physical, the deal fell apart.

Bears general manager Ryan Poles rebounded quickly, though, in order to fill in his defensive line.

On Friday, Poles agreed to terms with a pair of starters along the defensive line. First, the Bears signed former Los Angeles Chargers defensive lineman Justin Jones. A little later, Chicago agreed with former Indianapolis Colts defensive lineman Al-Quadin Muhammad.

Although it stung having to hear the news of Ogunjobi’s failed physical, the Bears now have a pair of starters up front just a few hours after letting their initial signing go.

Justin Jones and Al-Quadin Muhammad will step right into key roles for the Chicago Bears defense.

Last season, Jones started 11 games for the Chargers. In fact, he was a starter for the past three seasons in Los Angeles. However, he hasn’t played a full season within that span due to injury struggles.

When healthy, Jones is more of a run-stuffing lineman than he is a pass rusher. He’ll step into a starting role for the Bears, who lost Eddie Goldman after releasing him earlier in the offseason.

The one that Bears fans should be most excited about, though, is Muhammad. Obviously, he has a connection with new Bears head coach Matt Eberflus and played a crucial role for that defense last year.

The Bears were set to have Robert Quinn and Khalil Mack starting at the defensive end position, but after the team traded Mack, it left a big void. Some assumed that maybe Trevis Gipson could assume that role, but after the Muhammad signing, it’s clear Gipson will continue to be a depth piece.

Muhammad had 6.0 sacks last year for the Colts in a breakout year. At just 26 years old, Muhammad feels a lot like when the Bears signed Akiem Hicks years ago. Muhammad was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the sixth round back in 2017, then played four seasons for the Colts. Now, he gets a 2-year deal worth $10 million in Chicago.

Muhammad has a real chance to become a long-term piece for the Bears, assuming he continues his career ascension. By the end of his deal, he’ll still be just 28 years old and ready for another cash-in.

Back to Jones, who is a former third-round pick back in 2018 by the Los Angeles Chargers. Jones is only 25 years old, with plenty of time to prove his injury history is indeed history. Like Muhammad, Jones gets a 2-year deal with the Bears.

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Both of these guys are young players who are coming off career years in terms of overall production. They’re cheaper deals, but that doesn’t mean they’re insignificant. Poles did well by signing these two, especially in the wake of Ogunjobi having to depart.