GM Ryan Poles faces the difficult challenge of retooling a Chicago Bears offensive line that has struggled for several years. It comes off a season where it allowed 58 sacks. Unacceptable in any context. Expectations are that Poles will make significant changes to the front five, and it sounds like tackle could be his central focus. Based on early outlooks, it seems like free agency might be the better course to take in that regard. There are plenty of notable names available next month, but one that should intrigue Poles is Joseph Noteboom.
Don’t feel bad if the name is unfamiliar. The former 3rd round pick out of TCU hasn’t played a ton since getting drafted back in 2018. However, his situation isn’t normal compared to others. Lindsey Thiry of ESPN explained that he’d been stuck on the sideline primarily due to the presence of veteran tackle Andrew Whitworth. While the Pro Bowler defied Father Time for years in Los Angeles, Noteboom was forced to seek playing time wherever he could, be it at tackle or guard. He did pretty well too.
“The Rams drafted Noteboom with a third-round pick in 2018, with the plan being that he would learn from and take over for Andrew Whitworth. However, despite Noteboom’s development, that plan never materialized given Whitworth signed an extension and proved that he could not only continue as a starter, but compete at the highest level. With several opportunities to fill in as a starter, including in an all-important divisional-round win over the Buccaneers, Noteboom proved he is also entirely capable of starting at left tackle in the NFL.”
His finest hour was the win over the defending champion Buccaneers.
Facing one of the best pass rushes in the NFL headlined by Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaq Barrett, Noteboom was outstanding. In 40 pass blocking snaps, he allowed just one pressure all afternoon on Matthew Stafford. This proved crucial in the final seconds of the game when the QB hit two huge passes to set up a game-winning field goal. That doesn’t happen without Noteboom’s ability to fill in for Whitworth.
Now the 26-year old is scheduled to become a free agent. It isn’t clear what the Rams plan to do. However, with the team being $21 million over the cap and having other free agent priorities like Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. to worry about, it seems as if Noteboom hitting the open market is likely. In such a case, he is the type of player that makes perfect sense for Poles. Young, eager, and ascending.
#RamsHouse Joe Noteboom has the potential become a good Guard 👀pic.twitter.com/SFxrvmjSHQ
— 𝚂𝚕𝚢 ™️ 𝚁𝚊𝚖𝚙𝚒𝚘𝚗𝚜 🐏 (@ThinkBlue47) September 15, 2020
Joe Noteboom uncovered & finding work pic.twitter.com/0wLXeYwbFw
— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) September 26, 2019
Joseph Noteboom is a good gamble for the Bears
As stated earlier, he’s on the younger side. He turns 27 in June but doesn’t have the same wear and tear on his body as others his age. Playing in Los Angeles under Sean McVay also gave him crucial experience in a Shanahan-style offense. Something new Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy hopes to employ moving forward. It isn’t an easy system to learn. Having somebody familiar with it at such a crucial position would be huge.
Last but certainly not least is the price tag. For this coming spring, Pro Football Focus did contract projections for the top 200 free agents. Joseph Noteboom likely won’t command much more than a one-year deal for $4 million based on their numbers. This is because he’s never been a full-time starter. Any team taking a chance on him wouldn’t want to be on the hook for too much guaranteed money.
So he would be inclined to take a short “prove it” deal in the hopes of cashing in next year.
If he plays as he did against Tampa Bay across an entire season, that payday would be all but assured. There is no question signing Noteboom would be a risk for the Bears. However, it is a good one. He has been well-coached, played in big games, and performed favorably against some of the best in the business. In an offseason where resources are limited, this is a move that makes sense.
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