Rumor Mill Churning Heading out of Lockout for Chicago Bears

Ryan TerrellContributor IIJuly 24, 2011

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 12:  Steve Smith #89 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates his touchdown against the New York Giants on September 12, 2010 at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The list of players the Bears are rumored to pursue has been growing this offseason despite a halt to league business.

Here's a look at a list of offensive players various news outlets and beat writers have mentioned as potential Bears targets through free agency and trades, as well as a grading as to how hot we think the Bears will be after that specific player.

QB Marc Bulger (Free Agent): More chatter and connecting dots rather than any actual rumors, but Bulger has been a name connected to the Bears since last offseason, before he signed a one-year deal with the Baltimore Ravens, because he knows the Mike Martz offense from his days with the Rams.

Still, it'd be a longshot, as Caleb Hanie appears to be a priority re-signing as the backup for the Bears after a strong performance coming in for Jay Cutler in the NFC Championship. GRADE: Cool

WR Plaxico Burress (FA): Burress has told Chicago radio shows that the Bears are on his top-three list, but the interest doesn't appear to be mutual. We don't see it happening, either. The Bears just aren't the franchise to deal with players with a trouble-making past. GRADE: Cool

WR Steve Smith (Trade): The Panthers' Steve Smith, that is. Smith may not be the big, go-up-and-get-it guy many Bears fans are pining for, but at just 32 years old, you'd think there's some nice juice left in the former All-Pro wide receiver.

Moreover, he's a nice fit in Martz's offense with his quickness and smart route-running. Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times thinks it may cost the Bears a third- or fourth-round draft pick to nab Smith. If so, he's a pure playmaker and would be an explosive addition, and Bears safety Chris Harris seems to agreeGRADE: Lukewarm

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 12:  Santana Moss #89 of the Washington Redskins runs the ball after a catch during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers  at FedExField on December 12, 2010 in Landover, Maryland. The Buccaneers defeated the Redskins 17-16. (P
Larry French/Getty Images

WR Sidney Rice (FA): The Bears seem to love prying rival teams' players, and Rice is a good fit for the Bears as a down-field threat with size. However, he could demand a huge contract, and with his injury history, the Bears might back off. GRADE: Warm

WR Chad Ochocinco (Trade): The vibrant wideout wants out of Cincinnati, but that doesn't mean he'll get his ticket out. ESPN's Adam Schefter was the lead guy on this rumor, which is saying something. Still, considering Bengals owner Mike Brown looks like he will play hardball with an unhappy Carson Palmer, it may cost too much for Ochocinco. He's worth a fourth-rounder to us. GRADE: Cool

WR Santana Moss (FA): We often get the feeling that when Larry Mayer, the staff writer, writes that the team could be interested in a player, there's some truth to it. So when Mayer mentioned that Moss is a good fit for the Bears, we listened. Moss, 32, is only 5-foot-10, but is quick, shifty and has reliable hands. GRADE: Warm

Other potential WR targets: Santonio Holmes, Mike Sims-Walker, Malcolm Floyd, Lance Moore.

T Ryan Harris (FA): The former Notre Dame standout was rumored to be headed to the Bears last season before the trade deadline. Nine months later, the Bears look set at the tackle positions with J'Marcus Webb and rookie Gabe Carimi. Still, if the price is right, the Bears could go after the right tackle if the price is right (say, fours years, $20-$25 million), especially considering Carimi will have to learn on the fly in a shortened offseason. GRADE: Lukewarm

G Justin Blalock (FA): Blalock can play guard or tackle, and has good size at 6-foot-4, 330 pounds, which means he'd be a player Mike Tice would like. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune thinks he'd be a guy the Bears could go afterGRADE: Lukewarm

G Marshal Yanda (FA): Yanda is another versatile guy with experience at guard and tackle. Outside of a mention in an article by Brad Biggsfan rumors have linked the former third-rounder with the Bears. It's doubtful the Ravens will let him go, but the Bears could outbid for Yanda. GRADE: Warm

Other potential OL targets: Guards Chris Chester, Daryn Colledge, Kyle Kosier; Tackles Tyson Clabo, Harvey Dahl.