With one move early in free agency, the Bears took steps toward solidifying two spots.
The addition of right tackle Bobby Massie, who spent the last four seasons with the Cardinals, will do that for the offensive line.
Linebacker Danny Trevathan’s signing will be greeted with more fanfare, but Massie’s arrival allows the Bears to move Kyle Long back to right guard after a season spent at right tackle. And that might go down as the Bears’ best move of all this offseason.
A better line starts with having Long, who is arguably the Bears’ best athlete and player, at guard, his best position. Long ranks among the league’s elite at the position.
Sources indicated the Bears pursued offensive linemen in free agency with such a move in mind for Long. The Bears had interest in several linemen and specifically eyed Chiefs guard/tackle Jeff Allen, a Chicago native and Illinois product. Allen agreed to a deal with the Texans. Any move for Long, a two-time Pro Bowl guard, was dependent on what could be accomplished in free agency.
The Bears still believe Long can develop into a strong right tackle with more experience. According to Pro Football Focus’ reviews, Long gave up six sacks and 28 hurries last season, while Massie surrendered seven and 39.
Still, it’s apparent where Massie, a fourth-round pick of the Cardinals in 2012, fits best. All of Massie’s 46 career starts have come at right tackle. Arizona also had the league’s best offense in 2015 behind quarterback Carson Palmer, who set career highs with a 104.6 passer rating and 35 touchdown passes.
At the very least, having Long at right guard and Massie at right tackle is a strong starting point. Second-year center Hroniss Grasu will immediately benefit from playing between Long and veteran left guard Matt Slauson.
Neither Vladimir Ducasse nor Patrick Omameh performed consistently enough at right guard last season to warrant serious long-term consideration. Both are free agents.
In an interview with WMVP-AM (1000) on Wednesday, Long was asked about his position, and he said the team has told him to “not worry” and “to basically have faith” in their offseason moves.
“I trust that 100 percent,” Long said. “I don’t think you can get in a more uncomfortable position than I was last year in Week 1. So I don’t think it could get any worse next year. What’s the worse they’re going to do? Move me back to guard? Well, at least I played that.”
Long said he was really “jacked up” about the addition of Massie, who received a three-year, $18 million deal. He has known Massie since his teenage years in Virginia. Both train with notable line coach LeCharles Bentley. Massie also called Long after he agreed to his Bears deal.
“He’s big ol’ strong, country, mean,” Long said. “He’s everything you want in an offensive lineman. I couldn’t be happier with the news that he’s going to be a Bear.”
Long deserves credit for how he handled right tackle last season. He was asked to switch positions a week before the season and often addressed his ups and downs publicly. Long’s Pro Bowl selection as an alternate was a credit to his reputation and past success.
“I don’t care where they put me,” Long said. “I’ll figure out a way to do it. I’ll figure out a way to make the guy across from me’s day a really long day.
‘‘If that means going back to guard, great. If that means going back to tackle, great.”
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