By Chris Burke
March 12, 2013

Jermon Bushrod The Chicago Bears brought in left tackle Jermon Bushrod to beef up Jay Cutler's protection. (Cliff Welch/Icon SMI)

You'll forgive Jay Cutler if he's enjoying the Chicago Bears' work on the first day of free agency. A couple of hours after landing Martellus Bennett to give Cutler a needed pass-catching tight end, the Bears reached an agreement on a long-term deal with left tackle Jermon Bushrod.

Bushrod should slot in immediately as the Bears' left tackle, replacing the much-maligned J'Marcus Webb. As Peter King wrote in his top 50 free agents post, Bushrod is "not great", but he certainly stands above Webb in the NFL's left-tackle pecking order ... and constitutes a tough loss for the Saints.

The new Bears' offensive coordinator, Aaron Kromer, served as Bushrod's offensive line coach in New Orleans, so there is an important degree of familiarity there.

Webb may wind up competing for the right tackle spot -- Chicago had issues there too, and Gabe Carimi is slotted as the projected starter at the moment.

Bushrod will be an interesting test case of how much Drew Brees' presence and the Saints' wide-open offense protects offensive tackles. Bushrod allowed four sacks and eight QB hits in 1,130 regular-season snaps, per Pro Football Focus, both very respectable numbers. Webb, by comparison, coughed up seven sacks and five additional hits in 1,073 snaps. The Saints threw nearly 200 more passes than Chicago in 2012.

How will Bushrod's numbers translate to Chicago and Marc Trestman's offense? The answer will be key to the Bears' 2013 fortunes.

Grade: C.

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