Bears GM Ryan Poles: ‘I’ve always wanted to keep’ David Montgomery

The running back is about to enter free agency.

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Bears running back David Montgomery carries the ball against the Vikings on Sunday.

Bears running back David Montgomery carries the ball against the Vikings on Sunday.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Bears general manager Ryan Poles made a public overture to keep David Montgomery on Tuesday, but it’s unclear if he’ll pay him accordingly.

The fourth-year running back is at the end of his rookie deal.

“I’ve always wanted to keep David,” Poles said. “I love his mentality, how he plays the game. I told him that to his face. He’s part of the identity that we had this year that kept us competitive.”

That alone won’t get a deal done.

“The second part of that is just the contract situation,” he said. “That’s something that we’ll see how that goes and if we can find common ground. Obviously, I’ve learned that you can want a player, and the value’s got to come together for it to happen.”

Spotrac.com calculated his market value as a three-year deal worth about $21 million. The Bears have the most salary-cap space in the league, but that might prove too rich.

Montgomery, who said Sunday he’d like to return, averaged four yards per carry, the second-best average of his career, this season. Splitting time with Khalil Herbert, he had 201 carries after averaging 238 through his first three seasons.

“I love the way he attacked this season,” Poles said. “That’s a guy that does everything right. You all watched his tenacity, his fight. I’m a big David Montgomery fan.”

A deal for Roquan

Former Bears linebacker Roquan Smith finally got his contract extension. The Ravens agreed to give him a five-year deal worth $100 million with $60 million guaranteed — roughly what Smith wanted when he was a member of the Bears and serving as his own agent.

The Bears wouldn’t give it to him, and Smith missed much of training camp as a “hold-in,” attending meetings but not practicing. Smith returned without any capitulation from Poles, who eventually traded him to Baltimore on Oct. 31 for second- and fifth-round picks. The Bears didn’t win another game.

Earlier this season, coach Matt Eberflus pointed to a lack of takeaways when asked to compare Smith to the highest-paid off-ball linebackers in the league. 

Smith, though, was named to his first Pro Bowl last month.

Still high on Mooney

When Poles took the Bears job a year ago, he quickly identified wide receiver Darnell Mooney as a player who exemplified what he wanted the Bears to become.

That hasn’t changed. 

“I love him more than I did when I first walked in the door,” he said. “I think he’s a special human being, first and foremost, and a really good football player.”

He offered few specifics about Mooney’s recovery from an ankle injury but said it was going well.

‘‘He’s a guy that says, ‘It is what it is. I’m going to control what I can control, and you know I’m going to come back just as good if not better than I was before,’ ’’ Poles said.

He’s eligible for a contract extension this offseason.

Signings

The Bears signed wide receiver Daurice Fountain and defensive lineman Donovan Jeter, both practice-squad players, to reserve/future contracts.

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