Add one more thing to the list of what drives David Montgomery

The Bears running back takes everything personally. More so than a contract that looms at the end of the season, it’s what keeps him from getting complacent.

SHARE Add one more thing to the list of what drives David Montgomery
Bears running back David Montgomery speaks at a press conference Friday.

Bears running back David Montgomery is entering the final season of his contract.

AP Photos

David Montgomery takes everything personally. More so than a contract that looms at the end of the season, It’s what keeps the Bears running back from getting complacent.

“I remember that I didn’t have any offers coming out of high school,” he said Friday. “I remember that we didn’t have any money when I was younger. I remember that when I got to college I wasn’t supposed to play as a freshman. And I remember when I was coming out in the draft I got passed up a bunch of times.”

Add one more motivator: a baby girl due Jan. 17.

“I’m excited to be a dad,” he said. “So just being sure that I’m being the best version of myself for my girl. But also being prepared to be the best father I can be, too.”

Montgomery and his partner each have an app on their phone that tracks how big the fetus is getting — one week it was a lemon, the next an avocado. Like many first-time fathers, Montgomery is beginning to think of his own actions as impacting more than just him.

That includes, eventually, what happens with his contract. Montgomery said he’s “not really paying too much” attention to it, but any potential extension looms over the final season of his four-year rookie deal. 

The stakes are high. Montgomery is in the final year of a four-year, $4 million contract, which doesn’t take into account performance bonuses he’s received. predicts that, in free agency, Montgomery could get about $13 million per year over four seasons. That’s quite the raise.

The Bears, however, might not be the team to give him one. Aided by Montgomery’s rookie deal, the Bears are spending only $7.3 million on all their running backs, per Spotrac. Only four teams are slated to spend less: the Jaguars, Rams, Patriots and Eagles.

Even though the Bears are expected to have the most salary cap room in the NFL in 2023, it’s not hard to see them turning to Khalil Herbert, another low-cost rusher, and spending the money elsewhere.

The Bears, though, have been quick to praise Montgomery. Even chairman George McCaskey singled him out by name at the end of 2021. 

“He’s been a pro — and he’s been that way since the beginning,” head coach Matt Eberflus said this week. “He’s a very serious-minded kid, young man, and he is all business. He’s done that since the day I met him. He’s real consistent.”

Montgomery downplayed the compliment  — “You don’t get treats or cool points for being a pro; it’s either you’re a pro or you’re out of the NFL,” he said — but knows that it’s one of the highest compliments a coach can give.

Eberflus expects to see even more from Montgomery starting Monday, when the Bears practice with pads for the first time. He wants to see the running back pass-block and run with authority in the Bears’ outside zone scheme.

“You need pads on to get good looks … ” Montgomery said. “Like I show every year, my relentlessness to want to be the best version of myself. Whether I have the pads on or I don’t, I want to express myself as much as I can. 

“I just want to show the guys around me that, ‘I got your back behind everything — but you’re going to get everything out of me.’”

Montgomery will benefit from offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s outside zone rushing attack, which figures to look a lot like the Gary Kubiak-hatched schemes the Texans, Ravens, Broncos and Vikings used at various points from 1995-2020.

Where that leaves Montgomery among the league’s running backs is a question for future negotiations. Pro Football Focus ranks him No. 19; ESPN’s fantasy staff ranks him No. 17.

“Of course, I take everything personal,” Montgomery said. “It’s just like you see lists, I see them too. 

“Knowing that I definitely have a child on the way puts things in other perspectives as well to tell myself, ‘You gotta go harder. It’s not enough. It never will be enough. And the moment that it is enough, it still won’t be enough.’ 

“I’m out here to not prove anybody wrong — but to prove stuff right to myself.”

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