Free Agency begins tonight, and without a pick on the first day of the NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears have a lot more money to spend on free agents.
Although this is a generally weak class of free agents, there are players that play at positions where the Bears need a lot of help.
Here is a list of big name players that the Bears should be going for come midnight.
Julius Peppers, DE, Played on the Carolina Panthers last season
This is the most obvious player that the Bears should go after. They had trouble getting to the quarterback last season, they finished 13th in the NFL in sacks last season.
To get back their image of being one of the best defensive teams in the NFL, they need to work on their defensive line, and losing Adewale Ogunleye is going to hurt, even though he only had 6.5 sacks last season.
Although players generally stay quiet on free agents, some Bears players have expressed hope that Peppers will be in a Chicago uniform next season.
Defensive end Alex Brown, who would likely start with Peppers on the line, said, "If we bring in Julius Peppers, that could help us a lot. The guy's a monster, he's an animal. He's the biggest guy and fastest guy I think I've ever seen."
Brown has also said that he would move across the line if necessary, as he plays right end, the same side that Peppers plays.
The Bears could also go for DE's: Aaron Kampman, Elvis Dumervil, Kyle Vanden Bosch
Antrel Rolle, S, Played on the Arizona Cardinals last season
The Chicago Tribune has said that the Bears are going to make a run for Rolle as well. Their safety play hasn't been great the past few seasons.
Although Al Afalava and Kevin Payne have played above expectations, expectations weren't high and they have been playing about average, and there have been mistakes that have cost the team.
Rolle is only 27 and has a lot of years left of being productive. He can also help bring along Afalava, who could benefit a lot from seeing the play of Rolle.
Adding Rolle will not only help in coverage, but also with turnovers. The Bears got zero interceptions from the safety position last season, Rolle had four interceptions last season. The Bears were also 22nd in interceptions last season, adding Rolle's four would move the Bears up to a tie for 12th.
The Bears could also go for S's: Ryan Clark, Darren Sharper maybe, not a lot of good free agent safeties.
Dunta Robinson, CB, Played on the Houston Texans last season
There are two trends developing in this article, defensive players and 27-year-old secondary players.
Robinson played his first full season in three years last season, and although his stats were down from what he had in his previous complete season (he didn't have any interceptions and it was his first full season without at least 80 tackles), he is still young and the best corner available.
Putting him across from Charles Tillman will give the Bears a solid 1-2 corner-back combo, and their secondary will be back to one of the top in the league.
The Bears could also go for CB's: Leigh Bodden, again, poor CB class
Anquan Boldin, WR, Currently still on the Arizona Cardinals
This is the only player on this list that isn't a free agent, however, the Cardinals are looking to trade him and their asking price is lower than in previous offseasons.
Reports are that the Cardinals are asking for only a 3rd-round pick for the All-Pro wide receiver, and the Bears just happen to have a 3rd-round pick. Yes, that means that the Bears wouldn't pick until the fourth round, but just wait until later in the article, I have a solution.
This guy is tough, and he is good. He missed four games the last two seasons combined and he still caught for over 1,000 yards in each of them.
Getting Boldin will almost instatnly fix the Bears' receiver situation. They have a team of #2 receivers without a #1, having a #1 with a bunch of #2's gives the Bears almost a surplus at wider receiver.
If this trade does happen, I would suggest throwing Boldin in as the starter (obviously) and having a battle between Earl Bennett, Devin Hester, Johnny Knox and Devin Aromashodu.
The Bears could also go for WR's: Antonio Bryant or, please not, Terrell Owens, Derrick Mason.
What to do with Greg Olsen
Although I already gave one option with Olsen, there are obviously other things they can do with the Pro Bowl tight end.
There has been talk about trading Olsen to move up in the draft, where the Bears would likely pick an offensive lineman, five positions that could be the Bears' achillies heal next season.
First, lets assume they trade their third-round pick for Anquan Boldin, there are a lot of teams that would take Greg Olsen for a second-round pick, if we're lucky, maybe even a late first, although that is less likely.
If they don't get Boldin, they could package Olsen and their 3rd-round pick for a late-1st round pick, where the could get a solid player in such a deep draft.
TE's who could take Olsen's place: Ben Watson, or just put Desmond Clark back to a starter
Fixing the Offensive Line
Instead of going player by player, I will just lump offensive line into one category. There aren't too many good offensive lineman in this year's free agency. They could go after Bobbie Williams who was on the Bengals last season, but he is 33 and nearing the end of his career.
Expect the Bears to try to get offensive linemen in the draft, especially if they move up. They also have been supposedly very interested in former Charger TE Brandon Manumaleuna.
Although Manumaleuna isn't a good receiver, Mike Martz's system doesn't require the tight end to be very involved in the pass game, they are more of sixth blockers, which is something Manumaleuna is good at. (He's very big at 6-2 295 lbs) For this reason, I didn't include him in the tight end section.
If they move into the second round, they could get somebody like Jon Asamoah, or Vladimir Ducasse. If they luck out and get a late-first round pick, they could get Charles Brown of Mike Iupati.
Obviously, all the moves I mention aren't likely to happen, but I would be happy to get even two of the guys mentioned above. I might not expect the Bears to become Super Bowl contenders in one offseason, but it sure would be nice.
I'm Joe W.
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