2024 Bears Free Agent Target: Lloyd Cushenberry
Kyle Terada - USA Today Sports

2024 Bears Free Agent Target: Lloyd Cushenberry

by - Senior Writer -

For the most part, most of the Bears offseason chatter has been about hiring a new offensive and defensive coordinator and building up the coaching staff. You have also had plenty of draft chatter about what the Bears will ultimately do with Justin Fields and the current No.1 overall selection in the upcoming NFL draft.

While that will be the most significant topic of conversation over the next two months, things are about to get real for the Chicago Bears as the official start of Free Agency is roughly a week away. Once that happens, we should get a general idea of what the Bears are thinking ahead of this season and what directions they want to go in.

Looking at this year's free agent class, there are many options for this team, especially regarding the skill positions. However, after releasing Cody Whitehair last week after eight seasons with the team, Chicago is now in the market for a Center, and there are some options in free agency to fill that void. One of those options is former Denver Broncos center Lloyd Cushenberry, who could be an option at Center for this team.

The 26-year-old, soon-to-be fifth-year man spent the last four seasons in Denver and, with a projected cap hit of around 15 million, fits right into the Bears' plans for spending and how they want this team to look. One of the best and yet one of the more undervalued Centers in the NFL, Cushenberry put together an incredible 2023 campaign that saw him allow one sack, four hits, 14 total pressures, and five penalties.

Those are incredible numbers, to say the least, and to have that on the Bears offensive line would be a massive upgrade. Initially a third-round pick by the Broncos in 2020, Cushenberry was a first-year starter, showing you his work ethic. Like many rookies, he struggled during his first season, but has since developed into a great player despite playing for three different coaches the past three seasons.

He’s started every game in three of his four seasons — the exception coming in 2022 when he landed on injured reserve with a groin strain, missing half of the season, so durability isn't an issue. While this team thrives on the run-blocking side of things, which is why they are such a good running team, Cushenberry is a better pass blocker than run blocker, which could serve as a bonus to the Bears.

2023 saw Cushenberry not only step up his game to the point where he had a career year but also see his run blocking take a giant leap forward, earning a 74.2 ranking by PFF. Mix that with his 76.4 pass ranking by PFF, and you can see how good he was in both the run and the pass, which only leads to good things on offense.

Cushenberry has developed into one of the better centers in the NFL, and he’ll be a top target for center-needy teams in free agency, including the Bears. When you look back at the Bears and some of their struggles the past few seasons, you can immediately point to the offensive line, as that has been an issue.

While they improved last season, the Center position was the weak link on that line, so adding Cushenberry would instantly fix that problem. Whether in free agency or the draft, Chicago will target a center, as that remains one of the most extensive needs for this team offensively.

Cushenberry is the perfect fit for this team as he is young enough to give a long-term deal and has been consistent in both the run and pass blocking aspect to anchor the line. Coming off the season he had, look for him to have plenty of suitors as the Bears try to remake their offensive line into one of the best units in the NFL.

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