Chicago Bears' Bargain Guide to the 2014 Offseason
The Super Bowl is in our rearview mirror, and we can now turn our complete attention to the offseason. The scouting combine is up first, followed by free agency. The Chicago Bears will take this time to develop a strategy on how they will rebuild their roster.
One idea is to take a more feeble approach to free agency. As they sit, the Bears are strapped for cash and still have a ton of roster spots to fill. This, of course, could change with some strategic cuts and contract extensions.
The Bears need help on the defensive line, secondary and could have some holes at wide receiver and tight end.
We have some solid bargain options for the team. Beware, none of these guys are your big names like Greg Hardy, Donte Whitner or T.J. Ward, but they are all realistic options for next season.
Click through and look at the bargain guide for the Bears this free agency season. Don't forget to share your own bargain players in the comments section.
Wide Receiver Chad Hall
This offseason, the Bears could say goodbye to Devin Hester, Eric Weems and even Earl Bennett. Marquess Wilson will likely move up the depth chart, but the team would still be thin at the position.
There are three things Hall could bring to the Bears: depth in the slot, flexibility on special teams and some trickery and elusiveness on offense.
He's certainly worth a camp invite. He can return kicks, cover on special teams and line up in a variety of spots on offense. Most importantly, he wouldn't cost too much, and if it doesn't work out, the team can just let him go.
Tight End Clay Harbor
There's no denying who the No. 1 tight end is. Martellus Bennett did a ton to reestablish credibility to the position for the Bears last year. However, It would be nice if the team had a better option to back him up.
Dante Rosario never got into the flow of the offense last year and had only one reception in 15 games. Bringing in a guy like Clay Harbor would take some pressure off Bennett and be an upgrade over Rosario and the not-so-sure-handed Fendi Onobun, who's supposed to be the future.
Harbor chipped in 24 receptions and two touchdowns while backing up and sometimes filling in for Mercedes Lewis with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He's an athletic target who can move around all over the field. Most importantly, he's a solid backup should anything happen to Bennett.
Defensive End Israel Idonije
The Israel Idonije experiment didn't quite work out for the Detroit Lions. Granted, he was just a backup, but the Lions would have liked more out of him.
Maybe it didn't work out because Izzy's heart is still in Chicago. He had 28.5 career sacks with the Bears and was very versatile on the defensive line.
Should the Bears go a younger route up front, it would be nice to have veteran who's well known back into the locker room. He'd be perfect to bring back if the team decides to release Julius Peppers.
Defensive Tackle Ziggy Hood
What will this Bears defense look like next season? Will it be a 4-3, 3-4 or hybrid of both? The Bears will likely address their interior line in the draft, but if they want to show more 3-4 looks, they'll need the personnel to do so.
Ziggy Hood has a ton of experience playing 3-4 for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Most importantly, he's been a very durable player playing in all 16 games in each of his five seasons in the league.
Would Hood be comfortable playing alongside, let's say, Henry Melton in a 4-3? It's an intriguing question. You have to think he's good enough to do so and would be the perfect player to bring in to show more 3-4 looks on defense.
Defensive Tackle Colin Cole
Greg Hardy is the big-name guy from Carolina, but Cole is a solid rotational player to bring in. He's well into his 30s but still remains a quality backup.
The Bears are going to need some depth when they rebuild this defensive line. Having a guy like Cole to rotate in is not the worst thing in the world. He would bring 99 games of experience to a defense that sorely needs it.
Cornerback Cassius Vaughn
There's still optimism that the Bears can work out some sort of deal with Charles Tillman. Having him back with Tim Jennings and Isaiah Frey means the Bears have their starters set.
Tillman back in the fold gives the team the ability to work on its depth at corner. Zack Bowman is still an option to come back, but if he doesn't, then Cassius Vaughn is a good backup plan.
Vaughn has experience as a starter if somebody goes down to injury and he can return kicks. The latter comes into play if the Bears decide to part ways with Devin Hester.
Strong Safety Quintin Mikell
The D.J. Williams/Jon Bostic approach was very smart. What wasn't expected was Williams going down with a season-ending injury and Bostic being thrust into the starting role sooner than expected.
The Bears could take a similar approach at strong safety this year. They could sign a solid veteran like Quintin Mikell to start for a season while a kid they draft around the second or third round takes his time to develop.
Mikell, like Williams, has been very successful in this league. He's got over 500 tackles and 12 interceptions in his career. He was named to the Pro Bowl back in 2009.
Free Safety Taylor Mays
The most interesting player on this list is saved for last. Taylor Mays was the man back in his college days at USC, but he has been largely inconsistent throughout his NFL career.
Mays has never been able to prove he can be a starter. If the Bears bring him in, it would be as the starting free safety. That's a big gamble to take given what Chris Conte did last year.
On the flip side, Mays has extraordinary talent and he could put it all together at some point. When he does, it will pay off greatly for a team. Mays is a former second-round pick, and he is only 25 years old. Is he worth the chance?