Will Braxton Jones still be a starter for Chicago next season?
Jamie Sabau - USA Today Sports

Will Braxton Jones still be a starter for Chicago next season?

by - Correspondent -

CHICAGO - You never like to give up on a second-year player. But when you have a second-year player at left tackle who missed six games this past season due to injury, it naturally causes the question - is it time to move on?

Braxton Jones started every game for the Bears last season. He only had a total of eight accepted penalties - three holding calls and five false starts. His success last season led him to be on the NFL’s all-rookie team. To the disappointment of the Bears, he did not quite make the second-year leap people thought he might, although he kept the penalties low with the exact same number of holding and false start calls.

Still, given the importance of the left tackle position, the struggles the Bears have been having at the offensive line overall, and the possibility of bringing in a new quarterback, having the best left tackle possible is essential for Chicago going forward. It is unclear whether Jones is that player or not.

Jones is still on his rookie contract, so his cap hit is barely over $1 million next season. Furthermore, he is not set to become a free agent until 2026. So, Jones is certainly not a trade candidate and probably not a candidate for release. However, that makes the question of whether the Bears will bring in some competition at the left tackle position.

First, it would definitely make sense to pick up some additional left tackles in the offseason and/or the draft. The Bears need depth at the offensive line in general, and particularly with Jones missing seven games due to injury, there needs to be a solid backup Chicago can also rely on.

As far as free agency goes, there currently do not seem to be a lot of options. The best option would be Tyron Smith, who just had an over $8 million cap hit for the Dallas Cowboys last season. Given his experience, as he has been in the league since 2011, he would demand a salary of at least that much coming to another team. The biggest drawback to him is that he is 33 years old. But, a veteran presence like him on the offensive line, in addition to his talent, seems to make it worth it.

For Jones, the Bears signing a player like Smith would actually help him. Getting to learn from a seasoned player at his exact position who has been named to the Pro Bowl eight times and been a first-team All-Pro twice, as well as being a member of the All-2010s Hall of Fame team, could really help Jones develop in the way people thought he might this season.

Overall, there is not really a chance of the Bears getting rid of Jones. However, there is the chance that he will need to fight for his spot as a starter next season. But, if Chicago brings in a veteran like Tyron Smith, Braxton Jones may just have to take a step back, learn, and develop in his third year. If he can develop more, then he should have a long career with the Bears as a talented offensive lineman is always something that Chicago will need as protecting their quarterback has proven to be a challenge for a number of seasons now.

Comment on this story
Send Feedback to Ariana Pensy: Email | Comment
Post your comments!