The other day I wrote an article discussing what the Bears should do to rebuild this team through the upcoming NFL Draft in April. I would like to discuss how the Bears can fill some needs through free agency.
Now after finding out that Mike Brown is officially gone and John Tait appears to be ready to retire, the holes are becoming deeper and deeper every day. With John St. Clair an unrestricted free agent, and last years number one pick, Chris Williams limited playing time due to injury last year, it seems are offensive line is suddenly an alarming area of concern.
I guess the one positive from all this movement is that the Bears are going to have some extra cash to spend to fill these holes. But now comes the hard part. Determining who to spend this new found wealth on and why?
Realistically, the Bears should be able to get one top shelf free agent, two or three mid-level free agents
So lets look at the top shelf guys first. Players such as Julius Peppers, Albert Haynesworth, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Nnamdi Asomugha, Terrell Suggs, and Ray Lewis are the big name superstars.
Now some of these guys don't really fit the Bears needs like Lewis and Haynesworth. They already have Tommy Harris and Brian Urlacher at those positions and signed to large multi-year contracts.
As for as Houshmandzadeh, who many fans are clamoring for, he always had Chad Johnson opposite him and Carson Palmer throwing him the ball. Last time they tried to take Muhsin Muhommad away from Carolina after he had a monster season, we all saw the results once he suited up on Solider Field.
He also had a great receiver, Steve Smith playing opposite of him, and Jake Delhomme was in his prime. The other similarity between these two players is their age of 31 when the Bears courted them.
I don't think T.J. is the answer. He has never been a true number one by himself and isn't a spring chicken anymore.
So that leaves Asomugha, Suggs, and Peppers. The lack of a pass rush can be looked at from two sides of the coin. Either lack of pressure from the D-line causes the QB to have too much time and picks the secondary apart, or the secondary is so bad that the QB is completing the ball so quickly the pass rush is nullified.
I think the second scenario is the Bears biggest problem. They definitely have more talent on the line than in the secondary. With new D-line coach Rod Marinelli re-vamping their schemes, I think we will see tangible improvement in the pass rush.So I think our man should be Asomugha. He has supplanted Champ Bailey as the top cover corner in the league and is an absolute shutdown, play making terror on the field.
Suggs is a great player, but it isn't a foregone conclusion that he will be able to make the switch from LB to DE in the Bears 43 scheme.
Peppers is a pass rushing stud, but he will want A-Rod type money, and we couldn't even consider that unless we dumped half of our current line. So Peppers may be nothing more than a pipe dream for us Bears Fans.
Now lets look at the second-tier players that are free agents. Vernon Carey, Jordan Gross, Max Starks, Jovan Haye, DeAngelo Hall, Dunta Robinson, Antonio Bryant, and Darren Sproles.
Gross is a mauling RT who possess a nasty demeanor and was a key clog in the Panthers stellar rushing attack last year. Although RT's aren't as sexy as LT's, they also come much cheaper. Bookending Gross with Williams would elevate our line play into the future.
Hall is another play maker the Bears sorely lack and although he was bounced around the league a little last year, it wasn't to long ago that he was considered one of the best at his position. He could be signed at a reasonable rate and maybe all he needs is a good change of scenery.
Haye is another interesting prospect who has grown up playing the Tampa 43 the Bears use and he is a good penetrator who can also rack up some sacks. Either lining up next to or rotating in for Harris would give the line a formidable boost.
Darren Sproles would make a perfect compliment back with Forte, but with the success of fellow teammate, Michael Turner, he might get a little pricey.
Antonio Bryant might make a decent fit and come in a lot cheaper than some of the other options that have been floating around. He had a great year for Tampa Bay and proved he could be a number one on his own.
Now if some of these other players sign elsewhere, players like Starks, Robinson, and Carey would also make good second choices in my mind. All are young and have room to grow talent wise.
So Jerry, it's time to convince the higher-ups to get out the checkbook and get us some players. Maybe they could take a page from the Blackhawks and decide to loosen the strings and spend.
But most importantly, spend wisely!