Chicago Bear's Insider: A Way Too Early Look at the Depth Chart on Defense
With the NFL’s lockout ongoing, teams are still caught in limbo waiting to see how things will shape up.
There is still free agency to consider, and within that is whether or not four-year free agents will be a part of that, or will it be just six-year free agents that will be involved?
Another questions specific to the Bears is whether or not they will bring back some of their own free agent defensive players to help them keep some of the continuity and depth that they need on defense.
The following is a look at what may be projected to be the Bears depth chart heading into the 2011 season. This depth chart includes those players that are still free agents (that are still unsigned).
In: Stephen Paea, Henry Melton, Matt Toeaina, Anthony Adams, Tank Tyler
Out: Marcus Harrison
The Bears are going to have to re-sign free agent defensive tackle Anthony Adams this offseason to keep continuity on their defensive line.
They may also find out that they have something big in Tyler, a free agent signee that came into the league with a lot of promise but has been bounced around the NFL. Melton needs to turn it up in his third year in Chicago as should Toeaina.
Harrison, who hasn’t done much since coming to the Bears, will have seen his last days in a Bears uniform.
In: Julius Peppers, Corey Wootton, Israel Idonije
Out: Nick Reed
The Bears appear to be a little thin at the defensive end position and will either look to bring in some additional talent during the offseason (once it finally starts) or may choose to stick with what they have and roll the dice.
Hopefully there won’t be any injuries at the position because if there are, the Bears could be in serious trouble.
Peppers will need to play well once again, as will Idonije, and hopefully they will be able to improve on their numbers from last season.
Wootton is a promising prospect that should see a lot more playing time in 2011 and could make a nice impact.
It’s possible that the Bears could bring in some additional talent at the defensive end position when they are finally able to, but they need to get good play and health with this group.
In: Lance Briggs, Nick Roach, Brian Iwuh, J.T. Thomas
Out: Pisa Tinoisamoa, Patrick Trahan
The Bears are going to be weak at the outside linebacker position unless they get some additional talent in the lockout is over.
Briggs is a lock once again and the Bears are going to have to try to re-sign Roach to play opposite him. Iwuh did play well when called upon (to replace Briggs after he got hurt), so he might be back and because of need.
Thomas, a sixth-round pick in the 2011 NFL draft, may end up making the team despite the odds against him.
Tinoisamoa is an attractive option (to bring back as a free agent), but the Bears may be wary of his ability to stay healthy, and with that, they may not choose to re-sign him.
In: Brian Urlacher, Rod Wilson
Out: Chris Johnson
The Bears got a lot of good production out of Urlacher last season and should continue to get the same this year although, without that full year of rest that he had last year, he may show signs of aging.
As long as he stays healthy though the Bears defense will excel. Unless he does something spectacular, Johnson won’t be in the mix for a roster spot this season, so to back Urlacher up, the Bears may choose to bring back Wilson.
In: Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings, Zack Bowman, D.J. Moore, Joshua Moore
Out: K.J. Gerard
Believe it or not, the Bears are a little bit thin at the cornerback position despite their numbers. Tillman remains the most stable of the group even though there are some questions surrounding his ability to cover receivers.
Jennings and Bowman will battle it out for a starting spot this year, and Jennings may have the upper hand.
Expect to see D.J. Moore back at the nickel back position while Joshua Moore should see some additional time in the lineup in 2011.
In: Major Wright, Chris Harris, Chris Conte, Craig Steltz
Out: Josh Bullocks, Danieal Manning
The Bears go into the season with some instability at the safety position and there are a lot more questions than there are answers.
Wright is poised to make a run at the starting strong safety job and being that it is likely that Manning will be gone he probably will end up starting. Harris will man the free safety spot and even though he’s had his breakdowns he’s still a very effective starter.
It’s likely that the Bears will not keep Bullocks around and opt instead to have Steltz and the newly acquired Conte remain on the roster for 2011. If there is an injury at any one of the two positions the Bears could find themselves in a lot of trouble next season due to the quality of their depth.
Hopefully they will be blessed with good health at the safety position.