2010 NFL Free Agency: The Chicago Bears' Top Candidates

Zack Pearson@Zack_PearsonCorrespondent IMarch 4, 2010

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 03:  Julius Peppers #90 of the Carolina Panthers looks on the sidelines during the game against the New Orleans Saints at Bank of America Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

With the 2010 NFL Free Agency period about to begin at midnight tonight, Chicago fans are excited to see if the Bears make any moves this year.

The Bears have been quiet the last two years or so of free agency, with their biggest (no pun intended) splash being Orlando Pace. That didn't work out too well.

The Bears, though, have made moves in the past. Arguably their best signing in the last few years was Muhsin Muhammad, who helped their receiving corps at the time.

With a do-or-die year for coach Lovie Smith and possibly GM Jerry Angelo, I wouldn't be shocked if they went on a spree. I also wouldn't be shocked if they didn't.

Let's look at the top prospects for the Bears this free agency period.

Big Targets

Julius Peppers

Sources say the Bears are high on Peppers, but the price might be too steep. Peppers is expected to ask for $15 million, something the Bears might not be able to offer.

Peppers can help this defensive line, which is key in the Cover-2. If the defensive line plays great, the pressure is off the secondary by a lot.

Peppers' numbers have dropped the last few years as he was in a contract dispute, and that could be a bad thing for the Bears. He could also turn out like an Albert Haynesworth, who got a huge contract from the Redskins last year but didn't produce top defensive line numbers like he was paid.

I don't expect the Bears to make a quick signing on Peppers Friday morning, but if a deal were to be made, it will be by Sunday.

Peppers is also rumored to say Chicago is in his top four destinations. Can the Bears compete with the Eagles, Redskins, and Patriots, though?

Antrell Rol le

Rolle is the best safety in free agency this year, and it's clear the Bears need a safety big time. If Peppers isn't signed, Chicago is expected to make a huge play for Rolle.

The converted cornerback to safety can cover, something most in the Bears secondary can't do. Arizona is expected to attempt to re-sign Rolle, which could force Chicago to raise its offer. I expect the best chance for the Bears to land a defensive player is going to be Rolle.

Karlos Dansby

Dansby might be the best free agent that no one is talking about. A play making linebacker that would only be a complement to Briggs and Urlacher. With Urlacher being on the decline of his career, Dansby could shine in this defense.

The Bears seem interested in him, but only if they can get him for a reasonable price. I don't see the Bears shelling out tons of money for this guy, but he might be worth it. The Bears might even be in play for both Dansby and Rolle, which would provide an instant upgrade to their defense.

Will Take a Look At

Brian Westbrook

Released by the Eagles after a couple disappointing seasons, Westbrook said he would love to play for Chicago. In a Mike Martz offense, Westbrook could be a contributor in the passing game out of the backfield. He can also complement a one-two punch with Matt Forte. The Bears will give a look at him, but it's doubtful they will sign him.

LaDainian Tomlinson

A running back released in the decline of his career, much like Westbrook, L.T will have to settle to being a backup no matter where he goes. He could also be a nice complement in a Martz type of offense. He and Forte could be a dangerous duo in the backfield, taking the pressure off Jay Cutler.

Dark Horse
Darren Sharper
Sharper won a Super Bowl with the Saints, but he wants to get paid. Sharper would be a nice fit in a Cover-2 defense. A big physical play making safety is just what the Bears need. I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up a Bear by the end of the weekend.

Long Shot
Thomas Jones
Jones is the best running back available, and a return to Chicago would be really nice. But it wont happen. With teams like Seattle and San Diego needing running backs, Jones would be a better fit in one of those places.


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