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Bears' D'Andre Swift signing proof Shane Waldron's influence already taking hold

Bears' D'Andre Swift signing proof Shane Waldron's influence already taking hold originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Bears were expected to be heavily involved in the running back market in free agency, and general manager Ryan Poles moved quickly Monday, agreeing to sign running back D'Andre Swift shortly after the legal tampering window opened, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Chicago. NFL Media's Mike Garafolo was first to report the news.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the deal is a three-year contract worth $24 million with $15.3 million guaranteed.

Signing Swift to a deal that pays $16.5 million in the first two seasons shows that the influence of new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron is already taking hold.

Despite having running backs Roschon Johnson and Khalil Herbert on the roster, the Bears opted to pay what amounts to starting center money for a 25-year-old running back who has only eclipsed 700 yards in one season in his career.

Last offseason, the Bears let David Montgomery walk in free agency and elected to sign D'Onta Foreman to a cheap, one-year deal to supplement the running back room. Poles' philosophy has been that running back value can be found cheap and that a running back by committee is an effective and affordable way to use resources.

When Waldron was with the Seahawks, Seattle used second-round picks in back-to-back years on running backs Kenneth Walker and Zach Charbonnet. Johnson and Herbert will likely compete to fill that role behind Swift.

At Super Bowl 58 Radio Row, Herbert told NBC Sports Chicago that he had not heard from Waldron but was excited about working with the new offensive coordinator.

The Bears were second in the NFL in rushing last season, but quarterback Justin Fields was a big part of that success. With Fields expected to be traded this offseason, the Bears and Waldron clearly felt the need to add to a running back that ranked 22nd in the NFL last season with 74 rushing first downs.

While Herbert and Johnson are serviceable backs, it's apparent that Waldron wanted a more well-rounded back to lead the room.

Last season, Swift rushed for a career-high 1,049 yards while catching 39 passes for 214 yards. He scored six total touchdowns during his lone season in Philadelphia. Swift has the explosiveness to thrive in Waldron's scheme and is a proven weapon as a pass-catcher. Before last season, Swift had caught at least 46 passes in each of his first three seasons.

The worry with Swift is that he'll have a similar post-Eagles run to Miles Sanders. Sanders rushed for 1,269 yards behind the Eagles' vaunted offensive line in 2022. The Carolina Panthers signed him to a three-year deal last offseason, and Sanders rushed for just 432 yards this past season in Carolina.

Swift's $8.25 million average over the first two years of his contract puts him eighth among current running back contracts.

For comparison, the Bears let David Montgomery walk to Detroit last offseason, and the Lions gave Montgomery a three-year contract that will pay him a base salary of $5.25 million in 2024.

Swift could very well fit in Waldron's offense. But it's a pricey deal for a back who had -0.3 rush yards over expectation per carry last season and isn't a great pass protector.

On Monday, the Tennessee Titans reportedly agreed to sign Tony Pollard to a three-year contract worth $24 million. Pollard is a better pass protector than Swift and is a similar receiving threat.

The Bears are betting that Waldron's scheme and their rebuilt offensive line will allow Swift to find the same level of production he did this past season in Philadelphia. It's a bet that shows Poles diverging from his normal philosophy to allow Waldron to start to put his fingerprints on the Bears' offense.

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