The Bears add help on offense with RB D’Onta Foreman and TE Robert Tonyan

The Bears let the second and third waves of free agency come to them on Thursday. They signed three veterans to one-year deals: running back D’Onta Foreman, tight end Robert Tonyan and defensive tackle Andrew Billings. Tonyan was the highest ranked of the three The Athletic’In the top 150 at No. 90. Foreman was next at No. 123. Billings was not ranked.

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How they fit: With the Bears, it’s always about system fit. That matters to general manager Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus, and they haven’t wavered. That’s why they took and signed defensive end Tremaine Edmunds and right guard Nate Davis for offense.

The same is definitely true of Tonyan and Foreman.

Tonyan’s connections begin with offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. They worked together in Green Bay. Tonyan’s best season came in 2020. He was 52 catches for 59 targets for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns. Getsy was in his first year as the Packers’ passing game coordinator that season and was their quarterbacks coach for Aaron Rodgers.

Foreman, meanwhile, had a better season than David Montgomery last season, rushing for 914 yards and five touchdowns for the Panthers. He’s a quick and explosive defender who played in the Titans’ run-heavy zone system before heading to Carolina.

Defensively, the Bears needed a better pair of three-technique tackle Justin Jones on their line. Enter Billings, a natural one-technique/nose accessory. The Bears were the worst pass-rushing team in the NFL last season, but they were almost as bad against the run. Only the Texans allowed more rushing yards than the Bears. Billings excels against the run.


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Impact of 2023: It is easy for all of them to outline roles. Tonyan should ease the heavy load of tight end Cole Kmet, Foreman should form a capable tandem with Khalil Herbert, and Billings should be part of the Bears’ defensive line rotation, especially on early downs.

If we had to rank them based on potential impact, Foreman would be number one. He showed last season when the Panthers traded Christian McCaffrey that he can handle a significant workload.

Everything he did last season led to a career high. With David Montgomery now a member of the Lions, the Bears needed to bolster their running back room and did so quickly by adding Foreman and Travis Homer earlier this week.

History: Foreman’s story is one of resilience, a personal trait that Poles try to identify in players. A third-round pick of the Texans in 2017, Foreman suffered a torn Achilles tendon while scoring a touchdown against the Cardinals in his rookie season. In 2019, Foreman tore his biceps while with the Colts. His career turned around with the Titans, but his tenure at Tennessee began on the practice squad.

Like linebacker TJ Edwards, the addition of Tonyan is another homecoming for a player from the Chicago suburbs. Edwards is from Lake Villa, Ill. Tonyan, the high school record holder, is from nearby McHenry.


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Cap update: In a press conference at Halas Hall earlier Thursday, the Poles summed up his team’s approach to free agency: “The goal of this offseason deal was to improve our roster now, but also to stay flexible in the future so we can stay healthy, be opportunistic and continue to improve, because of course we know this process takes some time to do it the right way.”

With plenty of cap space, the Bears were able to sign Tonyan, Foreman and Billings without any problems. They weren’t veteran minimum offers. Foreman reportedly signed a $3 million deal. The Bears added Billings on a $3.5 million deal.

Outlook: The Bears have yet to sign a free agent over the age of 30. Foreman is 26 years old, while Tonyan and Billings are both 28 years old. Their year-long contracts naturally come with evidence. But all three still fit the Poles’ approach of adding young, skilled players with either something to prove or more room to develop as players.

(Photo of D’Onta Foreman by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

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