Now that the NFL lockout has ended, rumors and speculation are flying all around the league like hotcakes off the griddle. I will delve into some free agents the Chicago Bears have either been linked to or whom I believe would be of interest to them.
We all agree the Bears need a wide receiver—even GM Jerry Angelo seems to be warming to the idea. But will it likely be a big name wideout like Sidney Rice or a lesser name?
Meanwhile, we all hope the Bears aren't done improving the offensive line. Sure, drafting Gabe Carimi was great, but they shouldn't rest on their laurels. They need to sign a guard.
Peering further into the crystal ball, the linebacker corps appear thin, and they could also use some depth at the corner and defensive tackle positions.
Also, don't forget that the Bears have a bevy of their own free agents to consider.
So without further ado, let's jump headfirst into the pool of free agency.
ESPN.com has a rumor on its site that claims the Bears are interested in Roy Williams, the wide receiver recently released by the Cowboys in a salary dump.
Williams, who played briefly for Martz in Detroit, has the size we crave. While most of the Bears' wideouts are on the short side, Williams stands 6'3" and might help Jay Cutler in jump-ball situations.
Meanwhile, his age should not be a factor as he turns 30 in December. The fact that he's coming off a mediocre year in Dallas should help make him more affordable to the Bears.
The affordability part is huge because the Bears do not appear to have an appetite to spend big in the free-agent wide receiver market. If they did, there certainly are some out there to be considered.
So while Williams is not Sidney Rice or Santana Moss, he would be a decent addition to the team.
It's no secret the Bears want to bring Olin Kreutz back for at least one more year. He may not be the player he once was, but he still performs at a good level, he's a leader and he is integral to the Bears' line for 2011.
However, there aren't too many good centers on the free-agent market, so he may be in demand.
Like Kreutz, O'Hara is a bit long in the tooth at age 34, but unlike the Bears veteran, there are some health concerns.
O'Hara missed 10 games last season due to injury and underwent offseason ankle/foot surgery.
But it's difficult to believe the team would be comfortable thinking he could make the team as anything more than a backup at this point.
It's clear the most likely thing is for Kreutz to re-sign with Chicago.
According to ESPN.com's Michael C. Wright, the Bears have contacted Justin Durant and are said to be interested in bringing the Jacksonville free agent in as competition for the starting spot at strong-side linebacker.
Durant is an unrestricted free agent who appears to have plenty of suitors. That high level of interest may price himself out of the Bears' range.
But the team does need linebackers, as only Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs are currently under contract.
Meanwhile, the former second-round pick started nine games last season and made 55 tackles. He has been injury-prone, however.
Injuries limited Durant to just 10 games last year and have been a problem during his four-year career.
But the Bears would value Durant for his versatility—he has played every linebacker position—as well as for his contributions to special teams, where he has excelled.
In the same article that introduces the Bears' interest in LB Justin Durant, Michael C. Wright also states that the team wants to re-sign linebackers Nick Roach and Brian Iwuh.
With only two linebackers under contract now, the team needs depth.
Neither player is envisioned to be a starter, so if another team wants to pay them as such, they could leave. Assuming that doesn't happen, however, they would come back in the same role as last year.
Roach was a special teams contributor and fill-in at linebacker.
Pisa Tinoisamoa could also be brought back and, "is also an option being discussed within the organization," according to the article.
Well, say what you want about Angelo, but you can't say the Bears' GM was asleep at the switch.
The Bears were among the most active teams on the first day of contacting undrafted free agents and on Tuesday, when they actually could sign them.
Here's the list of the 19 undrafted free agents:
- Kyle Adams, TE (Purdue)
- Tressor Baptiste, LB (Texas A&M)
- JC Brignone, C (Mississippi State)
- Antareis Bryan, CB (Baylor)
- Corbin Bryant, DL (Northwestern)
- Travis Cobb, WR (Arizona)
- Josh Davis, T (Georgia)
- Ricky Henry, G (Nebraska)
- Mike Holmes, CB (Syracuse)
- Robert Hughes, RB (Notre Dame)
- Ryan Jones, CB (NW Missouri State)
- Alex Linnenkohl, C (Oregon State)
- Jordan Miller, DT (Southern)
- Deron Minor, LB (McNeese State)
- Sean Murnane, DT (Central Michigan)
- Andre Smith, TE (Virginia Tech)
- Winston Venable, S (Boise State)
- Anthony Walters, S (Delaware)
- Jimmy Young, WR (TCU)
How many actually stick vs. become just roster filler? Probably not many. But last year, the Packers used two undrafted free agents prominently, so anything is possible.
Well, all we know so far is who won't punt: Brad Maynard.
According to sources at ESPN.com and elsewhere, Maynard clashed with special teams coach Dave Toub, and that played a part in the decision to let him walk away from the team.
In anticipation of Maynard leaving, the Bears signed Richmond McGee to a contract. But there are free agents out there for the Bears to consider, and so it is very unlikely McGee replaces Maynard.
The Jets' Steve Weatherford is a strong possibility. He is younger and has a stronger leg than Maynard, though he did not kick well in the playoffs.