For a more updated list of the available free agents and Chicago's current needs check out my latest article on the Remaining Free Agents to Fill Chicago's Needs
Carl Nicks: Restricted Free Agent with the New Orleans Saints
A 26-year-old guard from Nebraska with three years under his belt, Nicks took over the starting job as a rookie and started every game over the past two seasons. He has played very well as a starter for the Saints' potent offense and may be the best guard available in free agency (not counting Logan Mankins, who was franchised).
He would bring a young presence to the offensive line that the Chicago Bears could build around with second-year tackle Webb and rookie tackle Gabe Carimi. I'm sure the Saints will be looking to pick up this restricted free agent, but it would be worth the Bears' consideration, as the offensive line is in need of a serious overhaul.
Cullen Jenkins: Unrestricted Free Agent with Green Bay Packers
At 30 years of age, he is no youngster, but he certainly fills a need for the Bears. At 6'2" and 305 pounds, he is the big defensive lineman that the Bears need to help round out the starting four of Julius Peppers, Israel Idonije and second-round draft pick Stephen Paea.
He is a load and knows how to get the job done in the trenches. He would help extend the shelf lives of both Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. Jenkins would be an immediate improvement on Bears D-line.
The Packers don't seem interested in keeping Jenkins so he will most likely be taking his talents elsewhere for the 2011 season; I just hope Chicago is a consideration.
*UPDATE* Jenkins has agreed to terms with the Eagles.
Brandon Mebane: Unrestricted Free Agent with Seattle Seahawks
Mebane is another big defensive tackle at 6'1", 311 pounds. The difference between Mebane and Jenkins is that Brandon is only 26 and stands to be a mainstay on the Bears D-line for years if they can find a way to sign him.
He has been a very good player for the Seahawks and would solidify the Bears defensive tackle spot alongside Paea for the next five years. If the Seahawks don't re-sign him, let's hope the Bears do.
*UPDATE* Mebane has agreed to resign with the Seattle Seahawks.
Jonathan Joseph: Unrestricted Free Agent with Cincinnati Bengals
"Peanut" Tillman has played admirably over the past five years and it is time Chicago brings in another solid cornerback to take some pressure off his shoulders. Joseph is a 27-year-old player who has a good combination of size and speed, and who could be a good Cover 2 or man corner.
Though Chicago has a plethora of cornerbacks, Joseph would immediately offer an upgrade over existing players and supplant Tillman as the No. 1 guy. It would be nice to see another guy in the secondary who the Bears could rely on, especially since the secondary is so exposed in the Cover 2 defense.
*UPDATE* Joseph has signed with the Houston Texans.
Braylon Edwards: Unrestricted Free Agent with New York Jets
Edwards has a reputation for dropping passes, but has had much better success over the past two years with the Jets. He is a big, strong and athletic receiver at 6'3", and would give the Bears the big receiving target they so desperately need. Next to Hester and Knox, he would bring a red-zone target and a guy who QB Jay Cutler could throw jump balls to.
At 28, he is still young enough to make a difference for the next few years. Due to the lack of top-notch receivers left on the market, Edwards should be a priority for Chicago.
*UPDATE* Now that the Bears have signed Roy Williams, the probably are not in the hunt for Edwards.
Donte Whitner: Unrestricted Free Agent with Buffalo Bills
Michael Huff: Unrestricted Free Agent with Oakland Raiders
The Bears have decent safeties, but either of these players would offer an upgrade at the position, and neither is too old not to be in the Bears' future plans. The Bears defense is getting old and these two players could help bring a little talent to the secondary from guys who are younger and already proven commodities.
Brent Grimes: Unrestricted Free Agent with Atlanta Falcons
Antonio Cromartie: Unrestricted Free Agent with New York Jets
Like Joseph, these two players would be upgrades over existing Bears cornerbacks and could prove to be valuable additions to an aging defensive unit. Both players should be considered, as corners are very important positions in the Cover 2.
*UPDATE* Now that the Jets have missed out on Asomugha, odds are that they will resign Cromartie.
Roy Williams: Unrestricted Free Agent with Dallas Cowboys
Once cut, he will be an unrestricted free agent and someone the Bears should consider. If Edwards isn't available, then Williams represents the next best thing. He is big, can win jump balls and has shown flashes of greatness throughout his career.
Can a reunion with the offensive stylings of Mike Martz be just what the doctor ordered?
With the big arm of Cutler, Williams could return to Pro Bowl form from his days in Detroit and provide the Bears with a big, reliable red-zone receiver. Time is running out with free-agent wide receivers that fit the Bears' needs and hopefully Williams could be the answer.
*UPDATE* Williams will reportedly sign with the Chicago Bears.
Harvey Dahl: Unrestricted Free Agent with Atlanta Falcons
Mike Brisiel: Restricted Free Agent with Houston Texans
These two should also be considered as relatively young upgrades at the guard position. Though neither is a Pro Bowl-caliber player, they would represent an upgrade over the aging Bears incumbents and provide the offense with some more hope for the future.
Either guy would be a welcome addition to a Chicago offensive line that gave up far too many sacks last year, and allowed way too much point-of-attack penetration in the run game. Chicago management should be doing its homework on both players.
*UPDATE* Dahl has agreed to a contract with the Rams.
Olin Kreutz: Unrestricted Free Agent with Chicago Bears
Kreutz is the heart and soul of the Bears offensive line. Though he is past his prime, he should be re-signed for his value to the team as a leader. If Olin is re-signed and the Bears can pick up one of the guards mentioned above, the Bears O-line would be vastly improved from last year. Kreutz may be on his last leg, but if he were to give Chicago a hometown discount, he would certainly be worth re-signing for the next two years.
*UPDATE* Kreutz reportedly has a contract offer from the San Fransisco 49ers.
*UPDATE* Bears have offered Kreutz $4 million for one year, but he wants $4.5 million and both sides seem willing to split ways if neither will agree to the others demands.
Mike Sims-Walker: Unrestricted Free Agent with Jacksonville Jaguars
Sims walker isn't quite as tall as Williams or Edwards, but he would present a needed size upgrade over Chicago's current receivers. He is 6'2" and has been the Jaguars top receiver over the past couple seasons. At only 26 years of age, he is just entering what would be his prime years. If Chicago signs him, they would be hoping that he can take the next step in his progression and potentially become an all-pro. Sims-Walker is a player who could potentially build a good relationship with Cutler and help form a solid passing duo for the next five years.
*UPDATE* Sims-Walker has reached an agreement with the St. Louis Rams.
Zach Miller: Unrestricted Free Agent with Oakland Raiders
With the Chicago Bears trade of starting TE Greg Olsen yesterday, the Bears are suddenly in the market for a pass catching tight end. Yes, Martz does not favor a TE in his offensive scheme, but Miller is much more proven than Olsen. Miller has been far more productive that Olsen over the past 4 years and that is even more impressive given the QB situation in Oakland during that span. He has been the Raider's most consistent receiver.
Miller is a must sign for the Bears now. He possesses the speed and size they need (6'5") to be a weapon in the offense. He will present a big red zone target and could make for a great miss match for Cutler to exploit. Put Miller next to a guy like Edwards, Williams or Sims-Walker and the Bears suddenly have a passing attack to compete with anyone.
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