Early in his Bears tenure, new GM Ryan Poles hinted that the team’s offensive line would look different in 2022. On Tuesday, that change was confirmed as Poles opted not to re-sign veteran guard James Daniels, allowing Daniels to sign with the Steelers instead.
Many thought the Bears may decide to allocate free agency dollars elsewhere, and sign a cheaper option at guard. But according to Tom Pelissero, Daniels heads to Pittsburgh on a three-year deal worth $26.5 million, giving an average annual value of $8.8 million, which was significantly less than many experts projected he may earn on the open market.
The expectation that Daniels may command more money in free agency stems from the fact that he’s reliable and still young. Daniels is set to turn only 25 this year, and has only missed 11 games in his four-year career. In addition, Daniels is a versatile interior lineman, who has started at left guard, right guard and center.
Questions still remain on the Bears offensive line, since we don’t know the extent of the changes that the team has in mind. There’s a chance Poles decides to cut fellow guard Cody Whitehair, who currently carries the third-highest cap hit on the team at $12.3 million, per Spotrac. We also don’t know how the new regime evaluates second-year players Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom, and if they could consider switching their positions.
Daniels is now reunited with former Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who agreed to a two-year deal with the Steelers on Monday. The Bears selected Daniels in the second round, No. 39 overall, in the 2018 draft. He made an immediate impact on the line in his rookie season, and started 48 games for the Bears in his tenure with the team.