Bears add more assist on offense with RB D’Onta Foreman and TE Robert Tonyan

The Bears let the second and third waves of free agency come their way on Thursday. They signed one-year deals with three veterans: running back D’Onta Foreman, tight end Robert Tonyan and defensive tackle Andrew Billings. Tonyan was the highest ranked of the three in Athleticism’s top 150 at No. 90. Foreman was next at No. 123. Billings was unranked.

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How they fit: With the Bears, it’s always a question of adjustment. It’s important to general manager Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus, and they didn’t hesitate. That’s why they targeted and signed linebacker Tremaine Edmunds for their defense and right guard Nate Davis for their offense.

The same goes for Tonyan and Foreman.

Tonyan’s relationship begins with offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. They worked together in Green Bay. Tonyan’s best season came in 2020. He made 52 catches on 59 targets for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns. Getsy was in his first year as the Packers’ passing game coordinator that season, in addition to being 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 fullback who played in the Titans’ zone scheme before heading to Carolina.

On defense, the Bears needed a better pairing for three-point tackle Justin Jones on their line. Enter Billings, a natural one-technique/nose tackle. The Bears were the NFL’s worst passing rushing team last season, but they were nearly as bad against the run. Only the Texans have allowed more rushing yards than the Bears. Billings excels against the run.


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Impact 2023: It is easy to project roles for each of them. Tonyan should lighten the heavy burden 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 were to rank them in terms of potential impact, Foreman would be No. 1. He proved last season after the Panthers traded Christian McCaffrey that he could handle a heavy workload.

Everything he did last season resulted in career highs. 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 in the week.

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

Similar to linebacker TJ Edwards, the addition of Tonyan is another homecoming for a player from the Chicago suburbs. Edwards is from Lake Villa, Illinois. Tonyan, a record high school quarterback, hails from nearby McHenry.

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Ceiling update: At a press conference earlier Thursday at Halas Hall, 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 going forward so we can stay healthy, opportunistic and keep getting better because obviously we know this process takes time to do it right.

With ample cap space, the Bears were able to sign Tonyan, Foreman and Billings without any issues. These were not minimum offers for veterans. According to reports, Foreman has agreed to a $3 million deal. The Bears added Billings with a $3.5 million contract.

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

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


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