If the Bears are to make a splash in free agency, Phil Emery will have to renegotiate terms with Julius Peppers and cut a few players in the process. The 30th ranked defense is in need of obvious repair and everything should be done this offseason should focus on restoring the once proud unit. If I were building a franchise on Madden or had Monopoly money, here’s who I would pick up:
Jan 11, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett (72) tackles New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) during the second half of the 2013 NFC divisional playoff football game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
1) Michael Bennett — once upon a time, I wanted the Bears to pick up the Wisconsin running back Michael Bennett but instead the Bears waited until the second round to pick up Anthony Thomas. This defensive end version is who the Emery needs to make a priority this offseason. Not only would it be a novel idea to pair him up with his Martellus, he gives the Bears a playmaking pass rusher.
Nov 17, 2013; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills free safety Jairus Byrd (31) celebrates his first half interception against the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
2) Jairus Byrd — Jairus’ dad Gill was an assistant defensive backs coach under Lovie Smith so there’s a Chicago connection. Safeties were a huge problem last season because 1) Chris Conte and Major Wright couldn’t make plays when they were in position and 2) because the defensive line got no pressure on the quarterback. Byrd is a playmaker and a three time Pro Bowler and All Pro.
Jan 11, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) is tackled by Indianapolis Colts cornerback Vontae Davis (23) in the first half during the 2013 AFC divisional playoff football game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
3) Vontae Davis — I watched Davis when he was at U of I and he has great athleticism and is a physical corner back. It’s unclear if Peanut will be back next season and if he’s not, I’d be happy if Davis replaces him. Either way, at this point in Davis’ career he’s at his prime while Tillman is at the end. Besides, Vontae prepares like he’s playing against Tom Brady all the time.
There’s no telling who will be available but if they were, I’d put all my efforts into signing any one of the three.