The beginning of free agency is here, and once again, I hear nothing from the Windy City, as the Bears once again start free agency quietly. But I feel this free agency could be different because veteran safety Darren Sharper was not resigned by the Minnesota Vikings and the usually quiet Bears might just make some noise for this hard-hitting veteran player.
Throughout 12 years in the league, the 33-year-old veteran has played safety for two NFC North rivals, the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings. He has made two Pro Bowl appearances, one for the Vikings and one for the Packers, and although he is past his prime in his career, the ball-hawk has a lot of upside left.
With the recent release of Mike Brown, the Bears are in desperate need of a veteran safety. The Bears have two free safeties qualified for a starting job: Daniel Manning and Craig Steltz. Although both Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo feel Manning is a much-better fit at the nickel-back position, and although Steltz made some key plays for the Bears last season—both on special teams and on defense—he is a very young player and may not be ready to get thrown into a starting job.
I believe with a few years watching the game from the sidelines and a veteran presence around to mentor him, the LSU alumni could be a Pro Bowler in a matter of years. Sharper could be that veteran presence and not only would Sharper be an asset on the field, he could help mentor the Bears' young defensive backs such as Steltz and even Zachary Bowman, who played exceptionally well against Sharper's former team (the Vikings) before getting injured and out for the season.
I'm not saying sign Sharper and expect him to be the franchise player of Chicago for years to come. All I'm saying is sign him to a one-to-three year deal, use him as a mentor to potential future starters and use him on the field while they have very few players that the organization could feel comfortable with going one-on-one with a No. 1 receiver.
Sharper is a good player that although he is past his prime still has a lot to put on the table for a team in need of a safety. It's a situation were there is very little to lose and there is no reason not to sign Sharper.