Sept 9, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Miami Dolphins tackle Jake Long (77) blocks Houston Texans outside linebacker Connor Barwin (98) during the second half at Reliant Stadium. The Texans won 30-10. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Long, Bushrod or Loadholt? Pros and Cons of Prospective Chicago Bears Free Agent Tackles

The Chicago Bears are “lining” up to “tackle” their biggest need as Free Agency is about to begin.  There are three offensive tackles that have been linked to the Bears.  Let’s look into the pros and cons of each. 

Jake Long

Age: 27

Drafted: 1st overall in 2008 NFL draft by Miami Dolphins

Awards and Accomplishment: 4 time Pro Bowler (2008-2011), First team All-Pro (2010), Second team All Pro (2009)

Pros: Long is an accomplished left tackle who was considered the best at the position for a stretch.  He’s still relatively young (he’ll be 28 when the season starts)

Cons: The injury bug has bitten long in recent seasons.  Is it the beginning of the end or can he bounce back with a clean bill of health and return to an elite level? Long is believed to command in the $10 million per season range on the open market and probably the priciest option.

Jermon Bushrod

Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; New Orleans Saints tackle Jermon Bushrod (74) on the line of scrimmage before a play against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium. The Saints beat the Cowboys 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Age: 28

Drafted: 4th round in 2007 NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints

Awards and Accomplishments: 2 time Pro Bowler (2011-2012)

Pros: Bushrod is coming off consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl.  He has a familiarity with Chicago Bears offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Aaron Kromer.

Cons: There are some who are skeptical of Bushrod’s legitimacy as a consecutive Pro Bowler, saying that he’s overrated and needs help in pass protection.  He’s slightly older and doesn’t have the pedigree of a Jake Long.

Phil Loadholt

Nov 11, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings tackle Phil Loadholt (71) blocks against the Detroit Lions in the third quarter at the Metrodome. The Vikings win 34-24. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Age: 27

Drafted: 2009 second round draft pick by the Minnesota Vikings

Awards and Accomplishments: None

Pros: Loadholt is a road grader right tackle.  He is a stud in the running game.  Taking him from the Vikings would hurt a division rival.

Cons: He projects as a right tackle only, so getting him pretty much seals Gabe Carimi’s fate.  He isn’t as accomplished as a right tackle as other left tackle prospects the Bears are considering.

If you grab a left tackle like Long or Bushrod, that moves J’Marcus Webb to either compete for right tackle or to play the swing tackle, a position for which he’s be well suited.  If they grab Loadholt, that pretty much relegates another former first round draft pick to guard or as a backup tackle.  I have said before I think Carimi can get better with another offseason of work and anther year away from the knee injury that cost him his 2011 season.

What do you think Bears fans?  Which of these tackles would make the most sense?

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Tags: Chicago Bears Jake Long Jermon Bushrod Phil Loadholt

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