The Bears will go into this free agency with anywhere from $20-25 million under the cap. New General Manager Phil Emery will be put under the microscope in his first free agent period.
The team has plenty of holes to fill and a large part of it will be addressed in the NFL Draft. However, there are still players on the open market who can help get this team back to the playoffs. Here are 5 veteran free agents who can fill voids for the Chicago Bears.
Vincent Jackson is 6'5'', 230lbs. He can go up and get the football and protect any quarterback from errant throws. In other words, he is a dream for the Chicago Bears and Jay Cutler.
Jackson has had some off-field issues and there have been questions of quitting on his team, but there is no question he is the best wide receiver available and would look good in a Bears jersey.
Many people are going to want Houston's Mario Williams, but if you are able to sign Vincent Jackson, do you want to tie up that much money in two players? Not to mention the Bears have a ton of money locked into a dominant defensive end already.
Jason Jones is the kind of secondary defensive end who can flourish in the Bears system opposite side of Julius Peppers. He is only 25 years old but has been in the league four years already. At 6'5'', 276lbs, he has shown the flexibility to play inside and outside on the line. He can be a great rotation player if you decide to draft another at the position or re-sign Israel Idonije.
Even though John Carlson is still recovering from a torn labrum that cost him all of the 2011 season, he is still a viable option. Carlson is a veteran from Notre Dame who could provide stability to the tight end position.
He can catch, block and be a good red zone target for Jay Cutler. If he can match his early success of over 100 catches and 12 touchdowns in his first two seasons, then he would be an intricate part of the Bears offense.
Jared Gaither bounced around the league his first couple seasons until the injury-depleted Chargers called him last year. Not only did he fill in on short-term notice, but he also became a very solid left tackle for Philip Rivers' blind side.
Now the Bears have had their own issues protecting Jay Cutler, and J'Marcus Webb can not be the long-term answer to that position. Gaither is still just 25 years old, and at 6'9'', 340lbs, he can be a bookend on that side for years to come.
If quarterback is the most important position on the field, then why not make it important on the depth chart? Jay Cutler is the franchise player, but last season was proof if the next guy can't step in, then your season truly is done.
Kyle Orton knows the city, the fans and has what it takes to come in off the bench if needed. It is unlikely he will be given the chance to start somewhere else, making Chicago his likely destination. New Bears GM Phil Emery picked up Orton once last season and will probably do the same this offseason.