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Rumor: Chicago Bears targeting DE Lamarr Houston

NFL Network’s Ian Rappaport reports that the Bears are now targeting DE Lamarr Houston. That’s more like it. If losing out on Michael Bennett means the Bears sign Houston as a consolation prize, then I’ll be a happy man. Houston has been my preferred target from the beginning of free agency and nothing has changed. It’s my opinion that he is on the cusp of a breakout year. I know he only had 6 sacks last year, but he came awfully close to quite a few more. Houston was Pro Football Focus’ 11th ranked DE in 2013 and had 41 QB hurries and 16 QB hits. If you combine those for a stat I like to call QBH (QB hits+hurries) that total was the 6th best in the league among DEs. I look at QBH kind of like doubles in baseball. Often times a high doubles total leads to an increase in homers the next year. Hitters get a little stronger and some of those near misses clear the fence the next season. In football hurries and hits are near misses and if Houston gets a little stronger, quicker, or improves his rush technique some of those hits & hurries could be sacks next year. Even if he ends up with a similar sack total as 2013, he’s still one of the best DEs in the NFL against the run. He led all DEs with 63 tackles last year.

I would have been happy with the Bears signing Michael Bennett and think he could have produced the 8-10 sacks that he has the last two seasons. I think that is Bennett’s ceiling. Houston on the other hand is a year and a half younger and is just coming into his prime as a defensive end. He’s gotten better every season he’s been in the league and I think he has more room to improve. Hopefully the Bears can surround him with a few other players that can get to the QB so he isn’t the focus of opposing offensive lines like he was in Oakland. I might be getting ahead of myself, it is just a rumor after all, and the Packers are said to be after Houston as well. If they were willing to give a mediocre corner like Sam Shields almost $10M per then how much would they be willing to pay for a guy with legit pro bowl potential? After being let down about Bennett resigning with the Seahawks I needed something to get my hopes up and the rumor that the Bears are targeting Houston did the trick.

Twitter: @MikeFlannery_

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Tags: Chicago Bears Free Agency Lamarr Houston

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