Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery is entering the final year of his rookie contract this season. His first three years in the league have been stunted by a middling coaching staff that never quite figured out how to use his skill set. But that excuse no longer exists, and it’s on Montgomery to prove he deserves a lucrative second contract in Chicago.
There’s no doubt about Montgomery’s ability to be a feature back. He’s made plenty of plays in the NFL that prove he can be the focal point of the Bears’ offense. And that isn’t the ceiling on his upside, either; Montgomery could end the 2022 season as one of the top handful of running backs in the league.
Montgomery’s played 44 games for the Bears since being drafted in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He’s totaled 714 carries for 2,808 yards and 21 touchdowns. It’s a stat sheet that doesn’t match the excitement Bears fans have for him entering the 2022 season, but they aren’t alone. The new coaching staff is preparing for Montgomery’s ascent as well.
“I really like his makeup in terms of wanting to get better, pushing himself to get better,” Bears running backs coach David Walker said Wednesday. “He has high standards. And we are going to do everything we can to reach those standards.”
David Montgomery was on pace for career year in 2021
Montgomery was on track for his best season as a pro in 2021 before suffering a knee injury in Week 4. He had two 100-yard rushing games in the first four contests and was averaging nearly 4.5 yards per carry. Montgomery had three rushing touchdowns, too. But the knee injury derailed his momentum; Montgomery would run for more than 75 yards in a game just once over the final nine games.
Now, with a new offensive coordinator whose playbook is expected to be a good match for Montgomery, a career year could be on the horizon.
“I think it’s a great scheme,” Montgomery said of the Bears’ new offense last month. “I’m not going to tell you X’s and O’s of course, but I definitely think it’s good for me and the guys, as well, just learning something new and being able to hit the ground running. It’s different, but it’s definitely going to be great.”
The timing couldn’t be better for Montgomery, either. He’s running for more than just pride; there’s a lot of cash on the line.
“Whether I’m going into my second year or my first year, I’ve still got to play football, and I still have to perform,” Montgomery said in April. “I could really care less about contracts, the contract terms and things. But I’m excited to be here for another year and play with my guys, too.”
If he plays as expected in 2022, Montgomery will be in Chicago for a long time. Coach Matt Eberflus set the bar high for just how productive Montogmery can be this year.
“I think the sky’s the limit for him.”
Bryan is the founder and managing editor of Bears Talk. His previous stops include Bears coverage for NBC Sports Chicago and USA Today. His NFL Draft and Bears coverage has also been featured on The Draft Network.