Following the Chicago Bears in Free Agency: Making a Big Splash
The Chicago Bears have never been known to go after the big ticket free agents. Most of their big names have come through the Draft (Tommie Harris, Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher, etc.).
However, the past few seasons, the Bears have been making big splashes outside of the Draft adding big names.
It all started last season when they traded for Jay Cutler last offseason. This was the first time in recent memory that the Bears went out of their way to get a legitimate threat (I don't count Mushin Muhammed as he only had one good year).
They then complimented the big trade for Cutler by signing Orlando Pace on the very same day.
The Bears are following the same formula of signing all their big name players in one day, here is a recap of the players that the Bears have signed so far.
Julius Peppers, DE
I wrote about Peppers yesterday when I previewed what the Bears should do in free agency this season.
It appears that the Bears have all but locked up Peppers, as the contract is currently going through the formalities of becoming a legal document before the Bears can officially announce that Peppers will be Bearing Down in Chicago next season.
With the signing, he will be playing in the position that Alex Brown played in last season, and Brown will probably move across the line like he said he would on the Waddle and Silvy radio program.
This signing not only gives the Bears a legitimate pass rusher, but it will also open up lanes for Tommie Harris and Alex Brown, who will likely have an easier time getting to the quarterback and clogging up holes.
Chester Taylor, RB
This signing wasn't really talked about until he scheduled a meeting in Chicago almost as soon as the free agency period began.
As soon as he came to Chicago, the Bears were ready to sign him and Taylor was ready to sign, and he came out with a four-year deal.
This gives the Bears a legitimate one-two threat on the ground, and this will keep the Bears from over-working Matt Forte, who suffered from a severe case of the sophomore slump.
Taylor is the perfect running back for Mike Martz's system, as he is a good third down back who can catch out of the backfield.
Speaking complimentary players who could flourish under Martz's system...
Brandon Malumaleuna, TE
Manumaleuna is somebody that is the prototype for a tight end in the Mike Martz offensive system. He doesn't have great hands but he is an outstanding blocker.
Adding Malumaleuna gives the Bears four tight ends, and somebody is going to be the odd man out. This will likely be Greg Olsen who, despite being a Pro Bowl reserve last year, doesn't fit in Martz's system that well and has already asked for a trade.
Expect the Bears to make some sort of trade to get rid of Olsen and move up in the draft.
What to expect for the rest of free agency
Yesterday, I said the Bears should go for big names like Antrel Rolle and Dunta Robinson, however, don't expect the Bears to sign these names.
They haven't been involved in the Robinson sweepstakes, and he will likely end up signing with the Atlanta Falcons, as reports have him working out a deal with them right now.
Smartly, Bears aren't putting all of their eggs into Rolle's basket. They are also one of the names being mentioned in the race for former Steelers' safety Ryan Clark, who had comparable if not better stats than Rolle last season.
It may be fair to say that either the Bears or Giants will sign Rolle, and whichever team doesn't sign Rolle will then sign Clark, much the same way experts expected the Julius Peppers-Aaron Kampman situation to go down.
If both deals fall through for the Bears, they could also look for O.J Atogwe or, a barely talked about possibility, Darren Sharper.
Will the Bears be involved in the trade market?
Greg Olsen has already made it clear through his super-agent Drew Rosenhaus that he isn't happy that the Bears picked up offensive coordinator Mike Martz.
He has asked Rosenhaus to go into "trade mode" and the Bears are likely to trade Olsen to try and get some value out of a tight end who doesn't really fit into what the Bears are likely to do offensively.
If they can get a second-round pick in exchange for Olsen, who hasn't played up to expectations thus far in his career, they would be foolish not to pull the trigger.
One team that could do business with the Bears for Olsen would be the New England Patriots who have three second-round picks. The Bears might even be able to squeeze a later round pick like a fourth or fifth-rounder as well.
Another trade that the Bears could be involved in is for Anquan Boldin, who the Cardinals are looking to deal due to high contract demands. With Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston, the Cardinals don't need the 1,000-yard receiver anymore.
Luckily, because the Cardinals are desperate, the report is that they will take a third-round pick in exchange for Boldin, which is something that the Bears should look into.
Although they are going to have to restructure his contract and pay him big money, he would provide the Jay Cutler with a reliable No. 1 receiver, and the Bears will have only one issue left on offense, the offensive line.
Expect the Bears to not sign many or any offensive lineman this off-season. Last year they signed Orlando Pace and Frank Omiyale, but this season there are practically no legitimate offensive linemen to sign. The Bears would be wiser to build that position through the Draft.
Overall, the Bears have been extremely busy this off-season so far, but don't expect them to stop making moves. Free agency is young, and the Bears have only begun to make a splash.
I'm Joe W.
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