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Bears Sign Saints OT Jermon Bushrod

By Chuck Sudo in News on Mar 13, 2013 2:45PM

New Bears OT Jermon Bushrod, seen in 2012 accepting the 2011 NFL Player of the Year award for Saints QB Drew Brees. (Photo credit: Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

The Chicago Bears wasted no time in addressing some of their key offensive deficiencies Tuesday. Shortly after former New York Giants tight end Martellus Bennett agreed in principle on a four-year deal with the team, the Bears announced the signing of New Orleans Saints left tackle Jermon Bushrod to a reported five-year deal worth $35.9 million — $17.7 million guaranteed.

The deal makes Bushrod the highest paid offensive lineman in Bears history and was structured so that it would give the team salary cap flexibility. Bushrod was a fourth round draft pick by the Saints in 2007, became a starter in 2009 and has earned two Pro Bowl trips while starting 62 games over the past four seasons. Bushrod is the first legitimate left tackle for the Bears since John Tait retired and allows head coach Marc Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer (who coached Bushrod in New Orleans) to move J’Marcus Webb to right tackle and Gabe Carimi to guard. The Bears could re-sign guard Lance Louis but would have to make some roster cuts to do so.

The signings of Bushrod and Bennett are major, especially when viewed from the prism of inept personnel shifts the Bears made the past three seasons to address the weakest part of their offense. The major reason Lovie Smith was fired after a 10-6 2012 season was his inability (refusal?) to address the offensive line conundrum. Bears GM Phil Emery has spent the past two off-seasons rebuilding the offense by bringing in players like receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, Trestman and Kromer and now Bennett and Bushrod. We aren’t saying punch a ticket to Super Bowl XLVIII yet, Bears fans. But be excited the Bears are doing something to keep Jay Cutler upright next season.