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Best Bears Options if David Montgomery Is Out Long

The Bears can't possibly get by with Ryan Nall and his two NFL carries, undrafted rookie Artavis Pierce, third-down back Tarik Cohen and Cordarrelle Patterson if David Montgomery is injured long, so the personnel department needs to be looking through the running back options.

The funny thing about running backs is they're paid so little these days in relation to the percentage of salary cap space they used to command, but when you really need one who's decent you're suddenly paying through the nose.

If the Bears want to get an immediate upgrade at running back because of the groin injury to David Montgomery at Wednesday's practice, their course is pretty clear.

They need to call the agent for Devonta Freeman, and it's possible it will cost them in terms of money and in other ways.

If they know it's a situation Montgomery can overcome in a reasonable period of time, they might want to go on the cheap and bring in one of the lower-cost backs available in a short period of time just to get him caught up on the offense by the opener.

If it's Freeman, they might need to get a better grasp on Montgomery's health status and wait a few days first.

Freeman was a $6.75 million cap hit last year so it's going to eat up a nice chunk of what estimates to be $17 million-plus available under the cap to the Bears now.

This is also going to eat up something else. It will take away some of the bonus money the Bears could take off of this year's cap to devote to the contract extension for wide receiver Allen Robinson.

The question is whether Freeman would be even worth the investment at this point. He averaged only 3.6 yards a rushing attempt last year, worse even than Montgomery's 3.7. And this was the first time since his rookie year he'd been below 4.0.

The seven-year veteran was running behind a suspect Falcons offensive line. But another concern has to be health. He had to go on injured reserve the previous season and played only two games, suffering first from a knee injury and then from a foot injury that was the deciding factor in going on IR.

Another alarming problem with Freeman was his receiving stats last year, and the line blocking didn't influence this. Although he did haul in 59 passes, the second-most of his career, Freeman averaged only 6.9 yards per reception. It was the second-worst average of his career and the only one worse was during his injury-shortened 2018 season.

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The 5-foot-8, 206-pound back isn't the power type like Montgomery is, and is more reliant on speed and elusiveness.

The next-best, all-around type back who isn't too old or beaten up is Isaiah Crowell, the former Jets and Browns runner. He gained 3,803 yards over five seasons but was out of the league last year and that's never a gold star on the resume.

Former Giants and Ravens back Javorius Allen is a little like Crowell because he at least has some experience. He's pushing 30 but not there yet at 29, had 514-yard and 591-yard seasons in his first three with the Ravens, and really had no purpose in New York last year because of Saquon Barkley.

If the Bears wanted a veteran back and didn't mind the age factor, and they didn't anticipate he'd be gone for long, they should try to talk Marshawn Lynch into coming to Chicago.

Lynch is 34 now but returned last year to the Seahawks in time to help them get to the playoffs.

Spencer Ware is a back with familiarity with the Bears' offense, after playing for Kansas City while Matt Nagy was on their staff. The Chiefs picked him up again after he'd been cut last year. This was in December when injuries meant they had only LeSean McCoy and Darwin Thompson as healthy, viable backs, but Damien Williams came back from injury to help them win the Super Bowl.

The other choice who could very well be one they consider is C.J. Prosise, who came in already to work out in Chicago last week.

The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder never accomplished much in Seattle, gaining 172 yards as a rookie. He had only 92 yards over his final three years, but did average 10.9 yards per catch on 36 receptions.

To get a bigger threat might take a trade, or if they show patience one might fall into their laps after roster cutdowns Sept. 5. But then they'd sacrifice a week's worth of valuable time to get the new back caught up on their attack.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven