NFL Free Agency: Bears' Remaining Options in the Shrinking Free Agent Pool
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In an article posted yesterday, I suggested that the Bears needed to sign Carl Nicks, Brent Grimes and Lofa Tatupu to make up for disappointing Bears fans this off season.
Not surprisingly, Chicago has not made any of these additions and it is too late for Nicks. It is almost certain they will not go after Grimes, but there is still a slim chance for Tatupu.
Carl Nicks has signed his one year restricted free agent tender with the Saints, and will be working to keep Drew Brees upright this season. Here's hoping NOLA doesn't sign him to an extension and the Bears go all-in next off-season and do everything in their power to fill the spot currently occupied by the aging Roberta Garza.
I don't see Chicago making a play for the other restricted free agent on the wish list, Falcons' cornerback Brent Grimes. The Bears aren't going to give up a first round pick for a guy who is not a can't miss player, especially if a first rounder was too much compensation to give up to sign a player of the need and caliber of Nicks. As a side note, the Falcons may be hoping that some team signs Grimes so they can get back the first round pick they gave up for the right to draft Julio Jones in this year's draft, but it will not be the Bears.
Finally, Lofa Tatupu. I would absolutely love this signing, as he would give the Bears a third great linebacker. His presence would also provide insurance for an Urlacher-less future, and would move Nick Roach to a reserve role. Tatupu has had some injury concerns and probably isn't fast enough to play the sam backer at an elite level anymore, but I am sure the Bears could make it work and it would be a huge success.
ESPN's Jeff Dickerson is reporting that Tatupu and the Bears are showing some mutual interest. While right now it is just speculation and wishful thinking from Chicago faithful, a signing of Tatupu would be a major success for the Bears. He is a big time free agent, would help elevate the defense and would give Chicago the very best linebacking core in the NFL, hands down.
If the Bears don't land Tatupu (or even if they do), below is a list of some players left in free agency who Chicago could potentially pursue to make the team stronger heading into the season:
Rocky McIntosh: This former second round pick out of Miami is finishing up another solid season with the Redskins. He would be a great addition to the Bears linebacking corps that needs to add at least one more player if they are unable to ink Tatupu. Consider him the Tatupu backup plan.
He would come into camp and battle Roach for the sam linebacker spot. I think he would beat out Roach and win the starting role, which would move Roach to his 2010 reserve role. Even if he couldn't beat out Roach, McIntosh would push Roach hard and would act as an extremely valuable reserve himself. Of all of the guys on this list, he would be the best addition for the Bears that could actually happen (Whitner and Floyd or Edwards would be great but none will probably happen).
Donte Whitner: This unrestricted sixth year man would be an immediate upgrade in the Bears' secondary. The Bengals were reportedly hot in pursuit of the best remaining safety left on the market, but the chances of him signing with Cincinnati seem to have dwindled. Whitner would be a solid pickup for the defense, as a player who brings both youth and experience. I think he could make an immediate impact and should be someone Angelo considers.
Bryant Johnson: This 6'3" receiver was cut by the Detroit Lions. While he has shown flashes of above average talent in recent years, Johnson has never lived up to expectations. He would come cheap and would add another big target for Cutler. Another player the Bears could target on a one year deal.
Kelvin Hayden: This cornerback was cut by the Indianapolis Colts, and is remembered for intercepting Rex Grossman and returning it for a touchdown against the Bears in the Super Bowl. He is a good option and would add depth to the Chicago secondary. The Bears have a lot of corners in camp, but how many will stick? I have no doubts Hayden would make the team if allowed to fight for a spot.
Malcom Floyd: This big target could be a solid addition to the Bears receiving corps. He may not have the talent to be an elite receiver, but he would be a valuable addition due to his size and experience. He would come into town and fight with Knox and Williams to be the number one or number two option in the passing game. There is reported interest from the Vikings, Niners, Jets and even the Bolts so I don't see this happening. It would be nice, but Chicago has just about as much chance of landing Floyd as they do signing Braylod Edwards, who Bear fans would welcome with open arms. Edwards isn't a realistic possibility unless he isn't picked up in the next week and a half (at which time anything is possible).
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