The Chicago Bears were one win away from making the Super Bowl last season. With most of their team returning next year, they shouldn't fall far out of contention in 2011-12.
That being said, every team has room for improvement, and this Bears team does have some weaknesses upon which they could improve during free agency.
Here is a list of 10 possible free agents the Chicago Bears could target this offseason.
The Chicago Bears need a competent back-up quarterback.
Seeing as Mark Bulger was once a very successful NFL QB in St. Louis and has already played in the Mike Martz system, this would be a match made in heaven—Bulger could help starting QB Jay Cutler understand the concepts of the offense better and almost be a player-coach when not needed on the field.
The Bears used their backup QBs last season on multiple occasions, including an entire half of the NFC Championship game.
If that pattern continues, they are going to need a backup who is ready to step in and play without totally destroying the offense's production.
Bulger has had some injury problems in the past. However, the Bears should be able to sign him at a low price, so it wouldn't be much of a risk to have him on the team.
The Chicago Bears had major problems protecting Jay Cutler last season.
While they addressed some of their offensive line needs in the draft, they are not done. They still have major weaknesses on the interior line and need to upgrade at the guard spot.
Carl Nicks would be a great fit for the Bears, and if he signed with Chicago, he would be their best linemen.
Nicks is a great run blocker and should be able to open up holes down the middle for Matt Forte, but is also a solid pass blocker and could really help new Bears tackle Gabe Carimi learn the ropes of the NFL.
It is a little bit of a stretch to say the Chicago Bears would go after Randy Moss because the Bears are usually known to stay away from taking such risks.
Moss had a terrible season last year, playing for three different teams in one season—something unheard of in the NFL. Moss is also old, and it looks as though his best years are past him.
But we all remember what he once did, and that makes him worth taking a look at.
Moss could spread the field for the Bears and, if he were fully invested in the team, could become Jay Cutler's top target in the passing game.
Some team will definitely take a risk on Moss next season, and it will be interesting to see if he has any of that great receiver left in him.
While the Chicago Bears are already set with their running back situation and the Mike Martz offense rarely uses a fullback, Le'Ron McClain could still make an impact in Chicago.
McClain's power-running style would be a great match with Forte's running style and ability to catch passes out of the back field.
The Bears had some problems scoring from the red zone last season, and McClain could help change that.
McClain will probably stay with the Baltimore Ravens, but if the Bears could somehow obtain him, he would be a good fit.
It is a large possibility that Ray Edwards does not return to the Minnesota Vikings next season, and he could be a great pickup for the Chicago Bears.
While Israel Idonije had a great season last year playing opposite of Julies Peppers, Edwards would be an upgrade and add a ton of depth at the defensive end position for an aging Bears defense.
Edwards was slow to come out of the gate last season but he picked up his play and quietly had a solid year.
If the Bears could get Edwards at the right price, it would help their defense and hurt Minnesota's at the same time.
The Chicago Bears have been looking to fill the third linebacker spot next to Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, and Thomas Davis could be the answer.
Davis was hurt all last season after tearing his ACL a second time so there is huge risk involved in bringing him in.
However, he should be a pretty cheap option, and if he could turn into anything like he was before his major injuries, it could turn out to be a great pick up. But, he also could be injured for the rest of his career and turn into a terrible offseason move.
Carolina has expressed interest in re-signing Davis, and the Bears probably won't take a chance on a guy who has been so beat up in the past.
That being said, Chicago should at least take a look at him.
The Chicago Bears have been looking for a threat at the wide receiver position for a long time and desperately need a big target for Jay Cutler to throw to.
Braylon Edwards would be a great addition to the Bears. He would not only be the big target Cutler is looking for, but would also pair well with Johnny Knox and Devin Hester.
Edwards can stretch the field with his ability to catch the deep ball and would be a great red-zone threat for the Bears offense.
Edwards has had some character issues throughout his time in the NFL, but he is still someone the Bears really need.
Plaixco Burress fits the same mold as Braylon Edwards.
However, the difference between Burress and Edwards is that Burress is more of a threat across the middle of the field, has better hands, and is a better route runner. Those three qualities are huge in the Mike Martz offense.
Burress was recently released from prison, but if he is a changed man, the Bears would have no problem signing him.
He should be motivated to get back to playing in the NFL since he hasn't in two years and has been without a paycheck for a long time.
If the Bears take a chance with signing Burress, it could really pay off down the road.
Lucky for the Chicago Bears, this free agent class is filled with quality wide receivers, and while all of them have question marks, they all are also very good players.
The top wide receiver target for the Bears should be Terrell Owens for the simple reason that T.O. is the best guy available—for his asking price.
Owens has put up great numbers the past two seasons, and, more importantly, he has shut up. He hasn't made any news calling out teammates or coaches—he's just gone out and played football.
And played well.
Owens is one of the best receivers of all time, and he could bring experience and leadership to the young Bears wide-receiving core.
Owens can do everything Braylon Edwards and Plaxico Burress can, and he will be a cheaper option on the open market.
The Chicago Bears number-one flaw is their offensive line, and they need to finish addressing it this free agency period.
There are a few different options available for the Bears, but Logan Mankins is the best one.
Mankins plays guard which is what the Bears need, and his experience would help as much as his play would (although he can run block very well, and his pass blocking is also strong).
If the Bears can make a few pick-ups on the line, it should not only help protect Jay Cutler, but also improve the run game, which at times last season was nowhere to be found.