The Chicago Bears continued their rapid start to the 2013 NFL free-agency period by signing former Saints Pro Bowl offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod to a five-year contract today (via the Chicago Sun-Times).
Bears general manager Phil Emery isn't messing around.
The Chicago Bears got off to a fast start in free agency with the signing of tight end Martellus Bennett almost immediately after the bell went off, and speculation swirled that the club was in the mix for help along the offensive line.
The Bears have been mentioned amongst possible suitors for Dolphins tackle Jake Long. But with the Bushrod signing and Long being scheduled to visit with the St. Louis Rams, it's more than likely that the Bears are no longer players for the services of the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft.
It was no mystery that the Bears were going to try and upgrade the offensive line. Whether through the draft or via free agency, the Chicago Bears had little choice but to add to the talent up-front.
And with the Bushrod signing, they've done just that.
Bushrod, the former 2007 fourth-round pick of the New Orleans Saints, has started every game at left tackle over the last three seasons. He was named to the Pro Bowl as the replacement for 49ers offensive tackle Joe Staley at the conclusion of the 2012 season.
The signing of Bushrod is a perfect match for the Chicago Bears' new coaching staff. Head coach Marc Trestman named former Saints offensive line coach Aaron Kromer as the Bears offensive coordinator in January.
Kromer knows everything you need to about Bushrod, and you can be certain that Emery picked the OC's brain before inking the 6'5" Towson alum.
According to Pro Football Focus, Bushrod had an up-and-down season in 2012. That said, PFF still ranked the Bears' new left tackle as the sixth-best free agent at the position in the 2013 free-agent class.
The days of J'Marcus Webb being a human turnstile are over in Chicago. Bushrod will be starting from day one at left tackle for the Bears with Webb likely becoming a valuable asset as a swing tackle who can play in the case of an unfortunate injury.
And if Gabe Carimi doesn't take a significant step forward at right tackle, there's a chance that Webb could be his replacement.
The signings of Bushrod and Bennett allow for the Bears to have flexibility at the No. 20 pick in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft. Emery will be able to grab the best player available and be free of the overwhelming pressure to fill needs.
It's also worth noting that defensive tackle Henry Melton, the Chicago Bears franchise player, signed his one year tender today (via the Chicago Tribune).