After splashing into the free-agent pool with the signings of veteran defensive end Julius Peppers, tight end Brandon Manumaleuna and running back Chester Taylor, the Chicago Bears are looking to shed some salary.
Even in an uncapped year, they are looking to save $10 million over the next two years in the form of nine year veteran defensive end Alex Brown. Brown, a two-time pro bowl alternate, has been arguably the Bears top defensive lineman for the past four years. However, that doesn't seem to hold any water with the Bears brass.
The Bears are openly shopping ex-Florida Gator standout Brown, but many sources have stated that if they can't find a viable trade opportunity, he will simply be released.
Head coach Lovie Smith and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli have a plan in place to move defensive tackle Israel Idonije to end, opposite Peppers, and feel that Mark Anderson will be a younger and cheaper option to fit into the platoon.
Anderson, who turns 27 in the 2010 season, has been effective in a limited role compiling 21.5 sacks over his four year career. Brown averages around 5.5 sacks a season, so if Anderson could at least hold pace, it would be a wash in the sack category.
The dealings at defensive end are not the only problem the Bears face. Their defensive tackle position has been downright dreadful the past few seasons, as has been the play of tackle Tommie Harris. But Smith and company think the changes at end and the new acquisitions could create more opportunity for the tackles to thrive.
Although the officials at Halas Hall think this is the right move, the fans throughout the city of Chicago are expressing ill feelings towards the idea of moving Brown, who has been a lone bright spot in a lowly defense.
Fans have grown fond of Brown, who has been a media favorite with his outgoing and honest attitude. But his type of personality is not one the Lovie Smith works well with. Not to say that Smith and Brown have animosity towards one another, but Smith is not akin to his players speaking out against the team or organization.
The local media seems to be split with the idea to move Brown, as saving the money is not necessary this season. Many are upset that the Bears showed their hand, vowing to release him if no offers are met. This begs the question of why would anyone give something up for him, when they could get him out of free agency?
In any event, Chicago has most likely seen Alex Brown's last game in a Bears uniform. With all of the off season noise the Bears have made, the Brown situation should be water under the bridge come September, for Lovie Smith's sake.
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