The Bears made some moves recently that sent three players packing (defensive end Tommie Harris, linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer and offensive tackle Kevin Shaffer).
With that they will need to reanalyze their needs and possibly look at some other positions in the 2011 NFL Draft as well as in free agency (depending on what happens with the collective-bargaining agreement).
The glaring needs are still there. Those needs include help on the offensive line, depth at the defensive tackle position and some help at the wide receiver position. The release of Harris and Shaffer only serves to reinforce those needs and make it even more important that the Bears take care of them in the upcoming 2011 NFL Draft.
There are some other minor needs that will turn into significant ones if Chicago decides to stand by and not address them in the draft or in whatever kind of free agency the NFL decides to have after the collective bargaining agreement is signed.
Some of these minor needs that the Bears have include getting help at the cornerback position, adding some more-than-adequate depth at the safety and all three linebacker positions as well as grabbing a backup at the quarterback position.
Running back could also be something that the Bears look into, but with the bevy of backs they have on the roster right now it’s really only likely that Chicago will bring in an undrafted free agent or two and give them a shot.
The linebacker position could be another position where they will look to add some depth, and may have to thanks to the departure of Hillenmeyer and the possibility of not being able to re-sign backup Nick Roach (who is a free agent this year). They may also have, in the back of their mind, an idea of starting to think of replacing Brian Urlacher although it looks like he could hold out for another two to three seasons.
The safety position could get some looks too as starter Danieal Manning is a free agent. Even though he’s been offered a contract by the Bears he may opt out and go look for more money elsewhere. Backup Josh Bullocks hasn’t been that effective as a backup, so the Bears may let him walk and try to pick up some additional talent at the position.
Moving back to the backup quarterback position, it can be assured that Chicago won’t bring Todd Collins back for another season. After playing almost as poorly as any quarterback possibly can in the limited action that he saw, Collins won’t be coming back to the Bears in 2011.
They could do much better at the quarterback position (perhaps even with a rookie quarterback), so look for them to either try to find a veteran in the offseason or draft a quarterback at some point.
Most likely they will sign a veteran this offseason and not look to the draft (for the second year in a row) for a developmental quarterback.
So the Bears have needs, just like every other NFL club and they need to take care of these needs during the offseason.
The lack of a collective-bargaining agreement at this time has thrown a little bit of a dark cloud over free agency and the ability to sign other players that are on the market. Until that is resolved it’s hard to throw free-agent possibilities into the equation for the Bears or for any NFL team.
For now, we have the draft to look at as a way to fix some of these issues and get things back on track for the Bears. Can they use the draft effectively to fix their holes and get back into the playoffs in 2011? We shall soon find out.
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