Grading the Bears’ signing of G Nate Davis
Defense may have stolen the headlines during the Chicago Bears’ first day of the free agent negotiating window, but they beefed up their offensive line as well. The Bears signed former Tennessee Titans guard Nate Davis to a multi-year deal on Monday afternoon, putting him in line to start at one of the guard positions on the line.
Davis was selected in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft and worked his way towards becoming the Titans starting right guard. After Week 4, Davis was entrenched as the right guard and played a significant role as a run blocker in running back Derrick Henry’s success over the last few seasons.
The arrival of Davis can certainly be viewed as an upgrade, but what does it mean for the other interior linemen? Here is our initial grade of the signing.
Tennessee Titans offensive guard Nate Davis (64) sits on the bench during the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020 in Kansas City, Mo.
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3 years, $30 million ($19.25 million guaranteed)
Initial grade: B
Tennessee Titans guard Nate Davis (64) moves to the next drill during practice at Saint Thomas Sports Park Wednesday, June 15, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn.
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All signs pointed to the Bears targeting a tackle early in the free agent negotiating window, but came away with a guard instead. The signing on its own is solid, considering Davis fits the type of scheme the Bears like to run. He doesn’t come cheap though when it comes to right guards. Davis is currently No. 4 in the league among right guards with an average salary of $10 million per year, according to Over the Cap. But he’s only guaranteed $19.25 million, making the deal more palatable.
As a player, Davis excels in the run game, which is validated by the success Henry has had with the Titans over the last four seasons. He’s quick off the line and seeks out contact to open up running lanes. But his pass blocking has improved the longer he’s been in the league. According to Brad Spielberger of PFF, Davis had a 66.8 pass blocking grade, the highest of his career. That will need to continue trending upward seeing as quarterback Justin Fields was sacked 55 times last season.
Davis should be a good addition to the Bears offensive line, but where will he play? The team found a gem at right guard with Teven Jenkins in 2022, who like Davis, also excelled in the run game. Cody Whitehair’s days as a Bear could be numbered, but he plays on the left side of the line where Davis has yet to line up. Would the Bears commit nearly $20 million guaranteed to play him on the left side with no professional experience? Perhaps they plan to mix and match this offseason to find the best group of players like they did in 2022. But given his experience on just one side, the move is a bit puzzling, even if it does make the Bears better in the long run. Time will tell how and where they plan to utilize him.