Bears GM Ryan Pace continued his plan to plug holes on his roster with as many other teams’ former first-round draft choices as possible Wednesday by adding offensive lineman Germain Ifedi on a one-year contract.
Ifedi was the 31st pick in the 2016 draft by the Seattle Seahawks, and it’s easy to see why he might appeal to Pace. In four years in Seattle he started 60 of a possible 64 games with his time split somewhat evenly between right guard and right tackle.
On the face of it this signing would appear to create competition for the starting job at right guard with Rashaad Coward and Alex Bars, while also giving the Bears a swing OT option now that Cornelius Lucas has moved on to Washington.
Ifedi becomes the fourth former first-round draft pick the Bears have added in free agency along with Robert Quinn, Artie Burns and Barkevious Mingo.
While it is an interesting and understandable strategy, part of the story is that other than Quinn all have been failed number one picks with their original teams.
Ifedi joined the Seahawks at a time when they had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL, and was as much a need pick as the best available player.
He struggled mightily in 13 starts at right guard as a rookie and was moved in 2017 to right tackle, where he started all 16 games and was up and down, seemingly much improved for a few weeks only to take steps backwards.
Ifedi split time at guard and tackle over the 2018 and 2019 but did start 34 of 35 overall.
While he is certainly an upgrade over what little depth the Bears currently have on the offensive line and could emerge as the starting right guard, it is worth noting that a Seattle team which still struggles up front did not elect to exercise his fifth-year option or try to re-sign him.
But Ifedi is a perfect fit for the type of prospects new offensive line coach Juan Castillo has had success with in the past, as Arthur Arkush described in his column here Wednesday morning.
Ifedi is 6-6, 325 pounds and played his college football at Texas A&M, where he was a freshman All American in 2013 and second team All SEC in 2015.
With the Ifedi signing, Pace has now plugged every perceived hole on his depth chart with the exception of any new additions to cover the departure of WR Taylor Gabriel.