The defensive line is a tough place to look. There are so many great personalities there and a lot of fan favorites. If this were a popularity contest, the line would be saved as a whole. But it's not, and it's time to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Because the defensive tackles are so frequently rotated, the entire group has been looked at rather than just listed starters Melton and Toeaina.
Julius Peppers: Let's be honest here. There's really no suspense with Pep. Peppers is arguably the best defensive end in the game and is nearly guaranteed a bronze bust when he hangs up the cleats. And the Bears couldn't possibly get as much out of him in a trade as he is worth to this team. Verdict: Keep
Israel Idonije: Idonije has been an interesting player to watch develop over the past few years. Last year, he peaked and made a name for himself. Unfortunately, this year, he's not played to the same level, and it's hurt Peppers and the Bears. But Izzy still has some value and might garner some interest on the trading block.
Unfortunately, Izzy will be a free agent and the Bears would have to sign him just to pull off a trade. Either way, it's time for the Bears to move on. Alex Smith was a better defensive end and the bears let him go. Verdict: Cut
Henry Melton: The Bears saw something in Melton that made them decide that if he added some weight, he could be a standout 3-Tech. They were right, and Melton currently is second only to Peppers in sacks and has recorded a sack in four of the last five games. And he's still improving. Verdict: Keep
Matt Toeaina: The Bears originally brought Toeaina in for depth, and I doubt they thought he would eventually start on this defense. Yet, he's done precisely that. Solid against the run and capable of creating reasonable pressure, the Bears are likely to keep Big Toe around for a while even if he isn't in future plans for the starting lineup. Verdict: Keep
Amobi Okoye: Okoye has given the Bears their money's worth this season, considering they signed him at a bargain-basement price. But his lack of skill against the run leaves him too one-dimensional for the Bears to pay Okoye again. He has trade value, but like Idonije, will be a free agent come year's end. Verdict: Cut
Stephen Paea: Paea was drafted just this year, and the Bears aren't going to let a second-round DT slip away after only one year...especially a good one. I expect Paea to start in 2012, and that all that needs to be said. Verdict: Keep
Anthony Adams: Adams has been one of my favorite players over the past few years and is as solid a run defender as the Bears have had in the last decade. That being said, Paea and Toeaina are solid run defenders. The Bears need to get younger on defense, and it might be time to look away from the 31-year-old Adams and into another direction.
Adams might actually have some trade value. He's an exceptional and underrated run defender, and there are plenty of teams who might want to part with a third-day pick to clog up the middle of a porous run defense. Verdict: Trade