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Bears claim 2021 first-round pick OL Alex Leatherwood off waivers from Raiders

Alex Leatherwood's sudden end in Las Vegas has opened the door to a new opportunity in Chicago.

The Bears claimed the 2021 first-round pick via waivers on Wednesday, one day after he was released by the Raiders. Chicago was the only team to put in a waiver claim for Leatherwood, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.

Leatherwood arrives as a project, a player who needs work on -- as his former coach said -- the fundamentals of offensive line play in the NFL. Chicago, meanwhile, needs players with potential to develop into long-term starters. After struggling at right tackle as a rookie, Leatherwood was slightly better at guard. He'll get a chance to figure out his fit in Chicago.

Leatherwood was overdrafted by at least one round in 2021, but he was still a Day 2 player to most who analyze prospects. That means some likely believe he can still turn into a quality lineman if given ample time to grow.

The Bears will pay for that time more than they would for the average waiver wire pickup. Chicago is responsible for the remaining $5.9 million in guaranteed money on Leatherwood's rookie deal, and the Bears also have the right to his fifth-year option if Leatherwood proves to be worth it.

It's a long-term play for the Bears, who have certainly become familiar with offensive line instability in recent years.

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