Potential Defensive Free Agent Targets for the Chicago Bears

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We’ve been so intensely focused on trying to land a big fish wide receiver for the Bears that we’ve totally ignored the defensive side of the ball.  There are plenty of top targets that the Bears could look to add to make an immediate impact on the defense.  (As an aside, I firmly believe the Bears need to invest heavily in the defense in the draft and spend money in free agency to bolster the offense.)

Defensive End

Oct 2, 2011; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans linebacker Mario Williams (90) rushes the passer against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second quarter at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE

Mario Williams

Can you imagine the former #1 overall pick playing opposite Julius Peppers?  NFC North quarterbacks shudder the thought of getting chased around by these two premier defensive ends. Here’s Pro Football Weekly’s scouting report on Williams:

Positives: Williams is one of the more physically gifted defensive players in football. At 6-6, 283 pounds, he gets off the ball with great explosion, boasting an incredibly quick first step. His great length and wingspan pose major problems for QBs. Easily knocks defenders off balance and seldom can be contained by a single blocker. He showed versatility and coachability last season, quickly adjusting to a new position. Williams isn’t limited to rushing the passer; he is a talented run defender, capable of holding the point and shedding blockers. At age 27, Williams is just reaching the pinnacle of his career. He has shown a willingness to play through injuries.

Negatives: A superior athlete, Williams sometimes can depend too much on his raw talent. He occasionally takes plays off and lacks discipline. Not instinctive. After showing great durability in his first four seasons, Williams’ injuries have piled up the past two seasons.

Risk factor: Williams is a rare talent who is just reaching the prime of his career. He has the ability to take over games and, with a premium on pass rushers, is a proven commodity who has stayed fairly healthy up until recently. He is an unselfish guy who is good in the locker room. The injury he suffered last season isn’t expected to linger; he should be ready to go. The only reservation teams might have with Williams is that he sometimes lacks urgency — not something coaches want to hear about a guy who is about to sign a potentially record-breaking deal.

I can’t exactly see the Bears pulling this off; it’s just too heavy of an investment in the defensive end group.  That said, the pass rush with these two and an up-and-coming Henry Melton inside would cover some obvious holes in the secondary.

Jeremy Mincey

Here’s an under the radar prospect coming off a career year in Jacksonville.  At 28, he’s entering the prime of his career and could come as more of a “value” option for the Bears, especially if they drop big bucks upgrading other positions.  Here’s PFW’s scouting report:

Postitives: He’s a tireless worker whose motor is constantly running, and a lot of his production comes strictly because of exemplary effort. He’s also very strong — the bull rush is his best pass rush technique. He has good quickness off the ball. At the age of 28, this overachiever is entering the prime of his career.

Negatives: He’s not a polished pass rusher and needs more moves to beat blockers. The 6-3, 270-pound Mincey does not have great length and is not a great run defender. Also, he occasionally overpursues. Despite being drafted in 2006, he has a small body of work, hardly playing his first three seasons and missing his fourth season on I.R.

Risk factor: What you see is what you get with Mincey. He won’t “wow” scouts or coaches with his size or athleticism, but his relentlessness and desire leads to production. He made the most of his opportunities the past two seasons and will parlay it into a nice payday. It is not out of the question that he could be even more productive on a line that features more pass rushers. However, he is going to get paid for a small sample size, which definitely carries some risk.

John Abraham

Here’s an option that makes sense if the Bears plan to draft a young prospect to put into the rotation.  At 34, Abraham is a “last gasp” kind of solution for the aging Bears defense.  Proceed with caution.  More from PFW:

Positives: He’s not quite as quick as he once was, but he still fires off the ball and has speed to explode off the edge. Possesses a good first step. Shows creativity as a pass rusher and good balance. Is very effective spinning off blockers to make plays. Relentlessly pursues the quarterback. Has quick, strong hands. Can rush well from the left or right side and is comfortable dropping into coverage. He long has been one of the league’s most productive pass rushers.

Negatives: He lacks ideal size and bulk strength and is less imposing vs. the run. He’s still effective, but age and wear and tear could catch up to him quickly. Production has varied from season-to-season. He’s not an every-down player. His use of a spin move to the inside leaves him susceptible to losing contain.

Risk factor: Abraham has the potential to outperform his contract if he has to settle for a short-term deal. He’s not in his prime — and his production last season requires a closer inspection — but, when healthy, he still can be a dominant pass rusher if he’s used efficiently. However, a sharper decline is possible in the near future.


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  • Phil_X

    The Giants have won two superbowls with an amazing pass rush and mediocre secondary. BUT, they also have Hakeen Nicks and other good WRs. If the Bears get Williams, they still need to get a big target for Cutler. I still say get a big WR in free agency, draft one more, and trade Knox to help fill other needs.