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Wednesday, February 12, 2014
2013 FA review: OG Matt Slauson

By Michael C. Wright
ESPN.com

Money: Signed a one-year deal last March worth $815,000, which included a $100,000 workout bonus with $200,000 of his $715,000 base salary guaranteed. Matt Slauson parlayed that into a four-year deal in January that included $4.9 million guaranteed, which can max out at $13.2 million.

Matt Slauson
Matt Slauson was nearly flawless protecting Bears quarterbacks in 2013 and has set the bar high on the offensive line.
Stats: None, but as one of four new starters on the offensive line, Slauson played a major role in the club setting several franchise marks on offense.

2013 role: Slauson joined Chicago coming off a 2012 season in which he didn't give up a sack with the New York Jets and became an immediate starter for the Bears at left guard. Slauson left the Jets seeking a more secure future and earned one moving into 2014 by becoming one of Chicago's most consistent performers on the offensive line.

"I told him when he came in that it was our intent to reward him if he did well, and we want him to be a Bear for the longer future," general manager Phil Emery said. "Matt certainly deserves that future with the Bears."

The good: Slauson surrendered just two of Chicago's 30 sacks on the season which rank as the club's fewest since 2008 and the second fewest for the Bears in seven seasons. Slauson was also responsible for two quarterback hits and 15 pressures. Somewhat of a technician, Slauson was flagged just three times all season with one of those penalties being declined. Slauson also served as a mentor for the younger players on the offensive line such as rookies Kyle Long and Jordan Mills.

Emery called Slauson "A key part of our offensive line improvement. Matt is exactly what we were looking for in an offensive guard in this season; big, long-armed, physical, tough, smart, big anchor point for our quarterback to be able to step up when he has pressure. Can't say enough about him in terms of leadership and fit with this group, and toughness and physical[ity] he brings to the group. When you're a defender and you line up against Slauson, at the end of the day, you know you played a football game."

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler called Slauson "constant."

"Every single day he's grinding," Cutler said. "He was able to show Kyle [Long] what it takes to be a successful guard in the NFL. Kyle was able to see it firsthand on film and be able to talk to him on a daily basis. Matt, I think he enjoyed doing it, being a semi-coach for Kyle and the young guys. I was really excited to hear that he's gonna be here four more years protecting me."

The bad: There's not much, but the Bears did run the football behind Slauson 70 times in 2013 and averaged just 3.61 yards per attempt. So that number could improve. Slauson also joined the Bears coming off a 2012 season in which he didn't allow a sack but gave up two in 2013. So yes, that number is still low. But Slauson has set the bar high in terms of expectations for his performance.

2014 outlook: The addition of Slauson helped to provide the type of stability along the offensive line in 2013 that the club hadn't seen in several years. So the decision to sign him to a four-year deal in January was a smart move on the part of the Bears, and moving forward, durability shouldn't be an issue for Slauson. With Slauson in the mix, the Bears were one of just three teams to start the same five offensive linemen in all 16 games. What's more is Slauson wanted to remain with the Bears for the next several years rather than test the market in free agency in 2014.

"I don't want any part of that," Slauson said. "I love Chicago. I want to be here. My family really likes it hear. I have always said that was a part of the reason I came here. If I get the opportunity to stay, I'm going to jump all over it."