I have admit that I am at a loss for the recent reports coming out of Halas Hall. The Bears are convinced that Mark Bradley and Devin Hester are ready to contribute at wide receiver, despite the showcasing of their limitations last season. Muhsin Muhammed is about to sign a deal to put him back with the Carolina Panthers, a great move for him to return to a team where he was a fan favorite. Bernard Berrian is officially a free agent and the Bears have given him an offer that not surprisingly Berrian felt was too low, considering he is the top wide receiver free agent on the market. So where does this leave the Bears?
I had assumed that if the Bears were willing to let players like Berrian and Lance Briggs go, then they would spend the money to shore up running back and offensive line. There have been on reports about running back, but I have heard the Bears are dismissing the idea of signing Alan Faneca as too expensive an investment for a guard. Forget the fact that he is a Pro Bowl offensive guard that could sign a long term contract and return the Bears offensive line to dominance.
The Bears sounds optimistic that they will sign Berrian and even make an effort to sign Briggs. The entire thing disgusts me since Briggs is pretty much as good as gone to the San Francisco 49ers, who have been pursuing Briggs for a while and have a complaint filed against them by the Bears for illegally inquiring about him before free agency. Whine all they want, Briggs will likely be in a 49ers jersey next year. The Bears need to stop living in fantasyland and get their act together before they lose out.
I realize there is a game that General Manager’s play to get players for a fair price, but this offseason seems to be a make or break time for this organization to either get back to the playoffs or spend the next 10 years talking about the Super Bowl loss. If the Bears pass on Faneca, Berrian, and Briggs, then where do they plan on spending that money? I can only hope the Bears are holding their cards, waiting to cash in on a bigger pot down the line.
There have been recent revelations the past few days as teams avoid paying out the first portions of salaries on March 1st. The Kansas City Chiefs have released wide receiver Eddie Kennison, the Washington Redskins released Brandon Lloyd, the Seattle Seahawks will lose D.J. Hackett, and the New England Patriots had to let go Dante Stallworth and Randy Moss. Don’t even get your hopes up about Moss, but the remaining three names could create possibilities. Given the youth of Bradley and Hester, they could benefit from a veteran like Kennison, much the way Moose had to help last season.
In fact, the Bears have been surprisingly quiet about the possibilities of any wide receiver free agent after cleaning house a few weeks ago. It doesn’t sound like Berrian has any plans of giving a home town discount and plans to sign the largest contract available. Is it possible the Bears could pull one over on all of us and land Dante Stallworth? Surrounded by talent on the Patriots offense, Stallworth never had a chance to see the ball more than a few times a game. Is it possible the Bears could bait him to Chicago with the chance to immediately be the top receiver? Does the re-signing of Rex Grossman help or hurt the Bears chances to sign any of these receivers? We’ll have to wait and see how free agency plays out. Personally, I would like to see the Bears make a move on Brandon Lloyd, a young receiver that make some plays down in San Francisco, but was forgotten in Washington, which has become a black hole for NFL talent.
Unfortunately, the Bears look content to release three Pro Bowl players and replace them with low level free agents and draft picks. The plan will be genius or completely blow up in their faces. There really is no in between for an organization that has traded or released every offensive player with any ability to get the ball and make big plays. I’m sure Greg Olsen will become a force on the field, but he’s not ready to carry an entire offense. It looks like the Bears are going to have to use the draft to bring in an offensive tackle, guard, wide receiver, safety, and possibly running back. If the Bears are lucky, the can draft two impact players to fill those positions, but there is no way they can expect to fill them all. At least two of those positions need to be filled by free agency or this team will not even be considered a playoff contender.
Offensive tackle Flozell Adams is available from the Dallas Cowboys but even he might be too expensive for the Bears to make a move on him. Speaking of Cowboys, running back Julius Jones is a free agent and has been lying under the of radar NFL rumors. He is a durable running back that doesn’t necessarily make big plays, but neither did his brother Thomas Jones before he signed with the Bears. The Bears should put a high priority on Michael Turner, but if things turn sour or he signs quickly with another team, turning to Julius may be a good option.
The best move the Bears can make to attract free agents would be to lock up one of their own. We have seen players sign with teams for a smaller contract with the expectation of winning. I think the best move the Bears can make is locking up Tommie Harris to a long-term contract. It will show free agents the Bears are committed to winning and are willing to pay out to the right player. If the Bears are so worried about leaving cap space to sign him, then they should sign him now and figure out how much money they have left for signing free agents.
At this point, if the Bears are not willing to spend money on free agent lineman then they need to make a priority of drafting lineman in the first couple rounds and signing a free agent running back and wide receiver. You hear that Jerry Angelo??
Tags: Alan Faneca Bernard Berrian Brandon Lloyd Chicago Bears D.J. Hackett Dallas Cowboys Dante Stallworth Eddie Kennison Flozell Adams Free Agency Greg Olsen Jerry Angelo Julius Jones Kansas City Chiefs Lance Briggs Michael Turner New England Patriots Randy Moss Rex Grossman San Francisco 49ers Seattle Seahawks Thomas Jones Tommie Harris Washington Redskins