Is David Montgomery on his way out of Chicago? The answer may be yes. Bears fans will not want to hear this, but unfortunately it could happen. The issue isn’t whether Montgomery is good or won’t be an important part of the offense. The issue is will Ryan Poles pay Montgomery.
David Montgomery is in the 5th and final year of his rookie contract, and will need to be paid before the start of next season. If Poles won’t give Montgomery a new contract he will become an unrestricted free agent and can sign with whomever he wishes. Assuming Poles doesn’t intend to hand him the bag he’ll be looking for, one of the better possible outcomes is trading Montgomery before the trade deadline. Why risk getting nothing for him like the Chicago Bears got nothing for Allen Robinson when he left. Due to the balance of players leaving and new signings in the offseason the Bears didn’t even earn a compensatory pick for Robinson. That is what the Bears risk if they just let Montgomery walk. At least with a trade they can get some value for Montgomery
Stats don’t lie
Why wouldn’t the Bears give Montgomery a new contract? While Montgomery is a fan favorite his stats say he actually isn’t one of the best RB in league. In a post by Johnathan Wood for Da Bears Blog, Wood shows that Montgomery statically is one of the worst starting RBs in the league. Out of all RBs with 150+ carries Montgomery ranked 24 out of 30 in yards/carry with 3.9 in 2021. Now the response to this is the offensive line is bad. Wood, however, uses a stat called rush yards over expected/carry from the site mfbanalytics. This metric takes into account all 22 players on the field. According to Wood this stat “projects how many yards an average NFL running back would get in a given carry based on historical data, and then compares how that specific running back did on that play”. Using this metric Montgomery was 19 out of 30 with -0.17 for 2021. Essentially Montgomery averaged less yards per carry than would be expected by the average running back on a particular play. Montgomery ranked in the bottom half or near bottom in most stat categories. The one bright spot was his carries/broken tackle.
Montgomery is a great teammate and a good player. The stats however don’t lie. This new administration lead by Ryan Poles has stated that analytics will be used more than it ever has been for the Bears. The fact is Poles likely won’t pay a RB top money that statically isn’t near the top. Especially considering Khalil Herbert the Bear’s rookie RB last season had 4.38 yards/carry and a 0.15 rush yards over expected/carry on 103 carries. Statistically Herbert was the far better rusher last season. Poles may want to see how Montgomery fairs in the new offense. If he excels and boosts his statistics then maybe Poles would consider handing him a new contract. However, Montgomery will have Herbert and 2022 rookie Trestan Ebner nipping at his heels. Bear’s coaches have already raved about Ebner’s athleticism and catch ability. The unfortunate truth remains that David Montgomery’s days as a Chicago Bear may be coming to an end.