Are the Bears Hibernating Through Free Agency?

Chris CastanedaContributor IMarch 1, 2009

The Chicago Bears are off to a rather slow start in free agency. Given their history under Jerry Angelo, this is hardly a surprise.


Under the current leadership, the Bears philosophy has revolved around building through the draft and maintaining the status quo by re-signing their own rising talent.


In recent years, they have spent large sums of money on defensive stars, such as Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Tommie Harris, Nathan Vasher, and Charles Tillman, among others. However, big-name free agents have been rare additions in Chicago.


John Tait was a success, but Muhsin Muhammad? Not so much.


The time has come for the Bears to rethink their game plan and take another chance in free agency. They can no longer stand by and watch their division rivals improve while their own product grows older and slower with each passing year.


Brian Urlacher and Mike Brown were hardly recognizable a year ago, and the latter is no longer with the club as a result.


Although Lance Briggs turned in another Pro Bowl caliber performance at outside linebacker, the defense lacks the play-making ability it displayed during the Bears' Super Bowl run in 2006.


The defensive line struggled mightily a year ago, applying little to no pressure on the opposing quarterback. The safeties were also suspect for much of the season, as breakdowns in coverage became a weekly occurrence.


There was also a rumor during the season that cornerback Nathan Vasher would be benched permanently.


With so many lingering questions among the Bears' veteran players, changes must be made to the current roster. Since the team has spent a majority of its money on the defensive side of the ball, to no avail, perhaps they should consider giving the offense a makeover.


They already missed out on Matt Cassel and appear as committed to Kyle Orton as they were to Rex Grossman, prior to his collapse in 2007. So a change at the most important position on the team is unlikely.


Matt Forte is one of the few bright spots at running back, and the tight end position might be the deepest on the entire roster.


The offensive line recently took center stage with the announcement that starting tackle John Tait may soon retire.


However, the free agent crop is somewhat thin at tackle and the Bears might be better served addressing this need with a pick on day one of the upcoming draft.


Therefore, the wide receiver position provides the most logical upgrade for this team. With names such as T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Marvin Harrison, Nate Washington, and Laveranues Coles available, the Bears have no excuse to start the season with Devin Hester and Rashied Davis as their starting duo.


The Bears have major holes to fill on both sides of the ball and should be busy during free agency. But given their recent history fans shouldn't get their hopes up.