The Chicago Bears are expected to sign defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, making it the first official free-agent dip for general manager Ryan Poles.
As the Bears transition to a 4-3 defense, it was necessary to secure the Technical 3 spot with the expected departure of Akiem Hicks. Chicago seems to have found that with Ogunjobi.
Ogunjobi, 27, is coming off a career with the Bengals, where he had 49 tackles, including 12 tackles for loss, seven sacks and 16 QB hits in the regular season. He was a big part of Cincinnati’s Super Bowl run. But he missed the last three postseason games with a foot injury that required surgery.
With the addition of Ogunjobi, here’s a look at the depth of the Bears’ interior defensive line:
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The Bears got their first big free agency move with the addition of Larry Ogunjobi, who is a quality 3-tech for this defense. Ogunjobi is coming off a one-year career with the Bengals, and he was a big reason for his defense’s success down the stretch. Ogunjobi immediately becomes Chicago’s starting Technique 3, which leaves Technique 1 in play.
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Khyiris Tonga, a seventh-round pick in 2021, is coming off an encouraging rookie season, where he saw significant time in place of an injured Eddie Goldman and fought back. Tonga showed that he can be a powerful run blocker in the middle of the defensive line, and his potential to move forward is exciting. Tonga is the current best option at the 1 coaching spot, especially if Chicago decides to go ahead without Bilal Nichols.
AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn
Mario Edwards signed a three-year extension with the Bears last offseason and has been a key backup on the defensive line. Edwards should have some versatility on the Bears’ defensive line with the ability to play 3 technique where he would back up Ogunjobi or come off the rim. He will be a key player in Chicago’s rotation as they transition to a 4-3 defense.
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Angelo Blackson was hired last offseason to serve as depth inside the defensive line, but was drawn into a more starting role due to injuries to Akiem Hicks. Blackson was solid throughout the season and saw an increase in production near the end of the season. He’s a dependable rotational player who could certainly keep 2022 plans in mind. While Blackson is certainly a low-cap candidate, it’s hard to imagine the Poles pulling the trigger with a lack of depth on the inside.
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
LaCale London spent most of the 2021 season on the practice squad. He appeared in just one game last season: a Week 15 contest against the Vikings when Chicago was devastated by COVID-19. At this point, London is nothing more than a practice squad player who doesn’t seem ready to contribute in 2022.
AP Photo/Matt Patterson
Auzoyah Alufohai split his 2021 season between the Bears and Packers practice squads. He signed with Chicago on September 1 and was released shortly after. Then in November, he joined Green Bay’s practice squad for a couple of weeks before being released on November 16. He rejoined the Bears’ practice squad on December 16 before signing a reserve/futures contract with Chicago on January 11. Alufohai is nothing more than a practice squad player who doesn’t seem to have Chicago’s plans in mind.[listicle id=503349]