Cost-Effective Moves the Bears Can Make This Offseason
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Now that General Manager Phil Emery has his coaching staff in place, he needs to think about how his 2013 roster is going to look.
The Bears will be one of the teams with the most money to spend this year but that doesn't mean they do so recklessly. There are cost-effective ways to fill in some of the holes on this roster as well as save money going forward.
Here are the smartest moves the Bears can make to improve the roster next season without breaking the bank.
Draft a Left Tackle
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The Bears must address their left tackle position this offseason. There are a lot of high priced and established players available in free agency but the Bears would be silly to blow money on one of them.
Jake Long, Ryan Clady and even Branden Albert are all fine players but the new hire of Aaron Kromer brings a new method to solving the challenge.
Kromer took an average tackle in Jermon Bushrod, who is coincidentally a free agent, and made him into a Pro Bowl player. Kromer has the knowledge and skill to take a young player and make him the quality left tackle the Bears need him to be.
Our own Matt Miller projects Lane Johnson out of Oklahoma to go to the Bears in the first round of the NFL Draft this year. Johnson is a very big imposing figure who started 23 out of 26 games at left tackle the last two years for the Sooners.
Re-Sign Lance Louis
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The last time we saw Lance Louis he was being carted off with a ruptured ACL on a vicious hit from Jared Allen. He's now working hard to make a comeback and he's also a free agent.
When Louis left the Bears he was by far the team's best lineman and was in line for a fairly decent pay day. Coming off the injury, many teams might shy away from the 4-year veteran but as long as he's healthy the Bears should bring him back.
New coach Marc Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer are two people who pride themselves on getting the most out of the offensive line. Should the Bears choose to break the bank on the line it should probably come at the left guard position with Andy Levitre.
To reiterate, the biggest factor in bringing back Louis is his health. As long as he's good to go he can be an above average guard in Kromer's system. He also won't take up much salary cap space.
Sign Brandon Myers
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Have you heard of Brandon Myers? Did you even know he was on Oakland? If you are a fantasy football junkie you are probably all over him, but Myers is not a household name throughout the NFL.
Even though Myers is not a household name, he is a free agent. The sixth round pick in 2009 from Iowa had 32 receptions in his first three years in the league. He then exploded for 79 receptions for over 800 yards and four touchdowns last year.
Myers is very athletic with soft hands. At 6'4'', 250 pounds, he can go up and get the football and provides a nice middle of the field target.
Martellus Bennett might have a bidding war surrounding him once free agency starts, but if the Bears focus on Myers they can get him on a cheaper long-term deal before attention turns his way.
Sign Jay Cutler to a Long Term Deal
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Jay Cutler still has one year left on his deal but now is the team to sign him long term. His stock is fairly low after missing the playoffs again. He also has to compete with other quarterbacks on the market who have had more recent success.
Last year Matt Schaub got a five-year, $29 million deal. This year it's Joe Flacco's turn. Both players have had solid playoff runs this year. If the Bears want a deal on a new Cutler contract they get it done now before a new offensive coach gets a hold of him and increases his value.
No quarterback wants to go into the season without a long-term deal. No quarterback who has taken as many hits as Cutler especially wants to go into a season without a long-term deal. He will be willing to take less money this year in exchange for getting something done. He hasn't much leverage and the Bears need to use that to their advantage.
Re-Sign Brian Urlacher
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The Bears have their new defensive coordinator: Mel Tucker comes from Jacksonville where he held the same position. He will command a unit filled with veterans, strong personalities and loyal players. Tucker could use some help and stability.
Many people were waiting to see who the man was going to be before they really began to speculate on whether Brian Urlacher will come back or not. Tucker has run a lot of Cover 2, some single high and zone coverage with zero pressure in Jacksonville. In other words he does a lot of what the Bears already do.
This means you can bring Urlacher back and help ease the transition from the Lovie Smith/Rod Marinelli era to Mel Tucker. When Urlacher checks around the league he will likely find he won't get big money for being an aging linebacker who at this point in his career is very scheme dependent.
Should the Bears choose to look for a linebacker via free agency the player will likely cost them more than Urlacher will. They should take this time to bring him back short term and seek out his replacement in the late rounds of the draft if possible.
Urlacher needs Chicago and to some extent Chicago needs him too. He should finish his career here for another two years at a price around $5 million total.