1) Jason Worilds (UFA) — James Harrison’s departure from Pittsburgh opened the door for Worilds, and he has capitalized in a huge way. The 25-year-old leads the Steelers with eight sacks this season and has totaled 61 tackles. He’s potentially risky signing for the Bears since he’s had just one season to prove his talent and value, but the potential and upside to Worilds is extremely high.
2) Vincent Rey (UFA) — Rey hasn’t had much starting experience at middle linebacker in his career, but this season he stepped in admirably for the injured Rey Maualuga and the Bengals defense didn’t skip a beat. With linebackers James Anderson, D.J. Williams and Blake Costanzo all free agents, Rey would provide the Bears with fantastic depth at the position, while also giving them added insurance for Khaseem Greene and Jon Bostic’s development. At the very least, Rey has been a standout special teams player for the Bengals and could provide a huge boost in that area for the Bears.
3) Larry English (UFA) — English, the former Northern Illinois product, has been a bust during his four-year career with the San Diego Chargers. The former 2009 first-round pick had his 2013 season cut short when he was placed on injured reserve with a biceps injury in November. He’s had several injury problems in his career and has struggled to find success at the outside linebacker position. English could be worth a look for the Bears as a backup defensive end/linebacker who is relegated to special teams until he can proves something, if anything. However, he’d have to come at a price tag much lower than his $2.44 million cap hit this season.
1) Wesley Woodyard (UFA) — “The Lumberjack” has experienced some injury and inconsistency problems during his career, but he’d be worth a look for a Bears defense that has struggled in all areas this season. Woodyard is a fantastic locker room presence and at 27 years old could help Lance Briggs bring some much-needed experience and leadership to the linebackers. Woodyard has incredible versatility, having started his career at outside linebacker and moving to middle this season. His best season came in 2012 when he racked up 117 tackles, 5.5 sacks and three interceptions for the Broncos.
2) Brandon Spikes (UFA) — The Bears rank dead last in the NFL in stopping the run and have been consistently burned by opponents week in and week out. Signing Spikes would undoubtedly be the best way to help solve that problem. He’s just 26 years old and has racked up 85 tackles this season in the middle of an injury-plagued New England Patriots defense. Spikes does, however, struggle to drop back into coverage and does not pressure the quarterback. He’s an experienced signal-caller though and a solid tackler.
3) Jon Beason (UFA) — At one point in his career in Carolina, Beason was considered one of the best linebackers in the league. He signed a historic $50 million deal with the Panthers in 2011, but ended up on injured reserve. Then, in 2012, the Panthers drafted middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, effectively ending Beason’s career in Carolina. Beason was traded to the New York Giants earlier this season and has since accumulated 84 tackles and an interception in 11 games. It’s a risk, but it could be a high reward situation for the Bears to look at.