With Super Mario landing a super-sized contract in Buffalo and fallback option Jeremy Mincey saying thanks but no thanks to the Bears and agreeing to stay in Jacksonville, the free agent market for the top tier defensive ends has dried up a bit, but there are still some options they can consider besides the draft.
Abraham is a little long in the tooth, but who isn’t on the Bears defense? Playing opposite Peppers could help boost his productivity, especially if it’s in rotation with a younger guy they draft. Re-capping an earlier post, here’s a scouting report on Abraham:
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.
Last we saw Wimbley, Lance Louis was horse-collaring him in Oakland. Wimbley isn’t yet a free agent, but the expectation is the Raiders will cut Wimbley to avoid paying him a huge roster bonus. He lists as a rush linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, but at 6’4″ and 255 pounds, he’s big enough to be a pass rusher for the Bears in Lovie Smith’s Cover-2. The 6-year vet is just in the prime of his career, so expect his price to be a little higher than Abraham.
Yes, that Mark Anderson. The former Bear found his mojo in New England under Bill Bellichik. He led the Patriots with 10 sacks in a bounceback season. Sometimes it takes time for a player to mature and I never had the sense that Anderson was serious about his craft when with the Bears. It didn’t help that he was handed a starting job after a surprising rookie campaign. Might be worth a sniff, especially since he knows the scheme and most of the major players.
Someone that’s fallen under the radar is last year’s starter opposite Julius Peppers. Izzy had a huge year in Peppers’ first year with the Bears and came back down to Earth last year. Izzy is a good option if the Bears draft someone to work into the rotation because I don’t think he’s productive enough as a full time starter.
What do you think? Which of these guys do you want? Are there other possible targets I missed out there? Lemme hear ya!