Lake Forest, Ill.– When the NFL’s legal tampering period opened on Monday morning, first-year Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles wasted no time dishing out offers to various free agents. Despite rumors that the Bears were in on a number of players, Chicago’s lone signing during the legal tampering period was defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi who spent the 2021 season with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Ogunjobi’s, Poles biggest acquisition to date, has drawn some mixed reactions among the Bears fanbase. On one hand, first-year head coach Matt Eberflus gets the coveted three-technique defensive tackle needed to ensure that the defense flourishes. On the other hand, many are confused as to why Poles opted to trade defensive superstar Khalil Mack and then make a splash signing on the defensive side of the ball less than a week later.
The final numbers, including cap hits are still unavailable but the expectation is that the Bears will ink Ogunjobi to a three-year deal $40.5M, with $26.35M in guaranteed money. Since entering the NFL in 2017 as a third-round pick by the Cleveland Browns, Ogunjobi has logged 63 starts and totaled 21.5 sacks. Besides just experience, the Bears believe Ogunjobi is the right fit in Eberflus’ defense.
Adding Ogunjobi to the Bears roster isn’t about making a splash move. Adding Ogunjobi to the roster is about giving Eberflus’ defense a critical piece needed to succeed. Despite having offseason surgery to repair his foot, an injury sustained during the 2021 playoffs, the Bears are banking on Ogunjobi to replicate his 2021 production, a stat line that included seven sacks, 49 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and 16 QB hits.
Just hours after signing Ogunjobi, the Bears opted to release veteran DT Eddie Goldman, ending a seven-year run with the team. Adding Ogunjobi to the defense means the Bears’ transition to a 4-3 defense is fully underway with Eberflus and Poles looking to quickly rebuild a unit that was inconsistent at times throughout the 2021 season.