Chicago Bears Free Agent Options: Inside Linebacker

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Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

With the start of free agency right around the corner (March 10th), I’m going to be breaking down a few options for the Chicago Bears at every position. I’ve covered both the lines and outside linebacker so far which you can read via the links below and will be covering free agent inside linebackers today.

The Bears only have one inside linebacker free agent to decide on and it appears to be a foregone conclusion that D.J. Williams will be leaving town, but as part of this series I will be listing the Bears internal free agents at each position with links to posts I did earlier this off-season on whether the Bears should keep that specific player.

With a new defensive scheme being implemented in 2015 it is difficult to predict what type of free agents the Bears will be targeting at any defensive positions, but based on their coaching hires it seems likely that they will be implementing some type of 3-4 scheme. I’ve chosen the free agent targets below based on the scheme DC Vic Fangio ran with the 49ers from 2011-2014.

Below I will be listing free agent inside linebackers who I think could help the Bears in 2015 and beyond. These aren’t necessarily rankings of the top free agents at the position, but players I think the Bears should target based on scheme fit, salary, and future potential. I’ve broken each position down to four parts: the big ticket signings, starters, young players with starter potential and depth players. At the end of the post, I’ve made my recommendation on which players I think the Bears should target.

Free Agent Breakdown:

D-line | O-line | 3-4 OLB | ILB | TE | WR | CB | RB | S | QB

Inside Linebacker – Bears Free Agents

D.J. Williams

Inside Linebacker – Current Situation

This will be a short section since the Bears only have one viable ILB option on the roster in Jon Bostic. 2nd year player DeDe Lattimore could contribute as an early-down run stopper but his lack of foot speed, inexperience, and issues in coverage could keep him off the field altogether. I suppose Khaseem Greene could be an option as well, but considering he couldn’t even make the active roster most weeks last season, he is a long-shot to make the team.

Inside linebacker is one of the bigger holes on the Bears roster going into the offseason, but unfortunately it is one of the weakest positions in a strong free agent class. Luckily the draft class is fairly strong at ILB, which is why I have the Bears using a 2nd round pick on an ILB.

Inside Linebacker – Free Agent Options

Big Ticket:

Rolando McClain – 26, Cowboys (6’3 | 255): The former 8th overall pick in 2010 was considered a bust, despite positive grades from Pro Football Focus every year of his career, and spent the 2013 season out of football. The Cowboys gave him a chance in 2014 and he played like the MLB the Ravens expected when they drafted him. McClain was strong against both the run and pass while providing occasional value as a blitzer. McClain was the 9th best ILB in the league according to PFF, but carries considerable risk due lack of productivity early in his career. Still McClain is only 26 and was of the best MLBs in the NFL last season. His past could keep the price reasonable and if so he could be a great fit for the ILB role that Patrick Willis handled so well for the 49ers in Vic Fangio’s scheme.