In just nine short days the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears will face off to start the 2023 NFL season. The two teams are looking to start something special this year. The Packers want to prove that they have their third franchise quarterback in a row. The Bears want to prove that their decision to commit to Justin Fields this off-season was the right choice. There is, however, one move the Bears recently made that could come back to bite them.
Chicago Bears Cutting OL Alex Leatherwood Will Come Back To Bite Them Against The Green Bay Packers
Gary Davenport of Bleacher Report annotated why this wasn’t the smartest decision by Chicago:
Alex Leatherwood will forever carry the label of draft bust with him. Since being selected 17th overall in 2021 by the Las Vegas Raiders, he has been mostly awful.
As a rookie, Leatherwood committed 14 penalties and allowed eight sacks in Vegas, per PFF. By 2022, the Raiders threw in the towel.
The Chicago Bears claimed Leatherwood off waivers, and Bears then-general manager Ryan Poles told reporters that the Alabama product was getting a clean slate in the Windy City.
“Forget the draft pick thing,” he said. “That’s over. So, let’s start from the ground floor.”
After one season in which Leatherwood played sparingly at guard (and again struggled), the Bears became the second team to throw in the towel on the 24-year-old, releasing him despite owing him over $4.5 million in guaranteed money.
It’s a puzzling move for a couple of reasons.
The first is that while Leatherwood’s first two seasons admittedly haven’t impressed, an argument can be made that it’s not entirely his fault. He was miscast as a tackle in Las Vegas and hasn’t really had a chance to show what he might be capable of as a guard.
The second reason is the state of the offensive line in Chicago, which is not good. Jacob Camenker of the Sporting News ranked the Bears’ offensive line 20th in the league, and that line has already been hit by injuries.
The Bears just don’t impress as a team that can afford to hemorrhage offensive linemen, especially when it costs them upward of $5 million in cap space to do it.
The Packers Are Going Into 2023 Very Healthy Along The Offensive Line
When was the last time the defensive line and the edge rusher were both strengths and depths for a team? For years, the Packers neglected their defensive line entirely, and they rarely had more than two or three edge rushers that you felt comfortable with on the field.
Kenny Clark is one of the best defensive linemen in the league right now, but TJ Slaton and Devonte Wyatt have also looked like beasts in this preseason and saw some significant improvement at the end of last season as well. All three of those players are loaded at the front of the line, and Karl Brooks and Colby Wooden have looked solid as rotational players.
There are two headliners at the edge: Rashan Gary and Preston Smith. Kingsley Enagbare, on the other hand, has been on fire; he looks like a future starter. Rashan Gary’s growth plan will apply to Lukas Van Ness, which is absolutely fine – he has the physical tools to be a stud, but it will take him some time to become one. The surprise of training camp has been Brenton Cox. The coaches could be forced to put him into the game more often if he keeps making plays left and right.
It was a bit surprising to see the Bears let go of an offensive lineman that could at least provide depth going up against a team as deep as the Packers are along the defensive line.
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