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Larry Ogunjobi
NFL

Larry Ogunjobi’s Failed Physical Is Ryan Poles’ First Big Blunder

  • Bryan Perez
  • March 18, 2022
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So much for Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles’ first big signing as the team’s top decision-maker. Defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, who agreed to a three-year, $40.5 million contract on the first day of the legal tampering period, failed his physical with the Bears on Friday. He isn’t coming to Chicago. Poles withdrew the contract offer in an effort to protect the Bears from investing in damaged goods. It was a tough but right decision by the rookie GM.

“This is difficult and emotional for everyone involved,” Poles said in a team statement Friday, “but it’s ultimately what is in the best interest of protecting the Chicago Bears.”

There’s no way to sugarcoat this. It’s a bad look. It’s a bad look for Poles, for the Bears, and for whatever process they used to identify Ogunjobi as a player who warranted an offer of more than $13 million per year. A failed physical because of a pre-existing condition that no one knew or could’ve known about is one thing. But that’s not the case here. Poles voluntarily and knowingly trekked this path paved with red flags and warning signs. And it backfired.

Ogunjobi suffered a foot injury in the Cincinnati Bengals’ wild-card victory over the Las Vegas Raiders in January. He was carted off the field. He had surgery on that foot not long after the injury—we’re talking less than two months ago. He was the definition of an injury risk, one that Poles… ignored?

 

 

Look, I don’t know how much access Poles had to Ogunjobi’s recovery or medicals prior to making such a lucrative offer. But it certainly is reasonable to expect a team to do its due diligence on a foot injury suffered by a 300-pounder before making such a massive commitment. Failed physicals aren’t necessarily uncommon, but they usually don’t happen at this time of year and with this level of contract.

Maybe it’s a fluke. Maybe it’s just bad luck. Or, maybe it’s just poor execution.

The good news for Chicago is they were prepared with a Plan B. Shortly after Ogunjobi failed his physical, the Bears signed former Chargers defensive tackle, Justin Jones. The former 2018 third-round pick out of North Carolina State had the best year of his career in 2021, finishing with 37 tackles, five tackles for loss, and three sacks. He’s a good player. He’ll fill an immediate need. But he’s still a Plan B, and that’s less than ideal.

There’s plenty of time and plenty of players left on the free-agent market for Poles to recover from this early blunder. And, look, Ogunjobi isn’t an All-Pro who suddenly got wiped off the Bears’ roster. Chicago will be fine. But he was Poles’ hand-picked first big free agent.

Unfortunately, he’s also Poles’ first big mistake.

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Bryan Perez