The Chicago Bears have just pulled off an enormous free agent acquisition, reportedly signing former Packers All-Pro guard Josh Sitton to a 3-year deal. According to a tweet by Adam Schefter, the deal is for $21.75 million total with $10 million guaranteed.
The #Bears are signing OL Josh Sitton to a 3-year deal, source said. That was fast
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 5, 2016
A 4th-round pick by the Packers in 2008, Sitton had spent his entire career with Green Bay until now. During that time, he earned three trips to the Pro Bowl and was named second-team All-Pro three years straight (2013-2015).
Though there has been no confirmation as to what the reason for his release was, there is some speculation that the veteran guard was unhappy with his contract situation and that the Packers didn’t want to budge. If so, thank you, Green Bay.
The question now becomes where the accomplished veteran plays. While his accustomed position has been left guard, the Bears may elect to move him to center, keeping rookie Cody Whitehair to develop at guard and bumping Ted Larsen, who has been filling in at multiple spots, back into a swing C/G role.
The practical play, especially for Whitehair’s sake, would be to go that route. For what it’s worth, Sitton has said in the past that he’s comfortable playing center as well as guard.
Whatever the Bears decide to do, the signing of Sitton immediately strengthens the Bears’ offensive line, solidifying an interior that already includes another All-Pro in right guard Kyle Long. His veteran presence will also make Whitehair better and more comfortable, especially if Sitton handles most of the line calls.
Suddenly, the prospect of facing J.J. Watt in Week 1—while still obviously daunting—just became far less problematic. And long-term, if the 30-year-old Sitton can stay healthy, the Bears might have found a guy that can hold down the center position at a high level for the duration of his three-year deal.
That’s something Bears were unsure about just coming into this season when they were unsure about how Hroniss Grasu would perform and whether they would need to start Larsen or the now-retired Manny Ramirez if he wasn’t ready.
Either way, expect to see Sitton in the starting lineup somewhere next Sunday. Right now, it’s got to feel great to be a Bears fan.