Chicago Bears: Projecting the 2015 Defensive Starters
Antrel Rolle, SS
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Once Devin McCourty re-upped with New England, Rolle became the top safety available in this year’s free agent crop. As we Bear fans well know, this has been a position of need to one degree or another since the days that Mike Brown was roaming the back end. After dealing with the likes of Chris Conte, Major Wright, Craig Steltz, etc. for the last several years, the move by GM Ryan Pace of bringing in the best available FA safety is one that sits well with the fan base.
Rolle will be leaned on heavily for his leadership and barring injury or rapid decline in his play this preseason, he will be an opening day starter. The only question is whether he’ll be lining up at free safety or strong safety. Rolle came into the league with the Arizona Cardinals playing cornerback from 2005-’07, but then made the switch to FS and played there until 2012.
It wasn’t until 2013 that Rolle moved to SS and his performance that season was one of the best of his career, earning him a trip to Honolulu. Strong safety seems to be where his career arc is taking him and with nine interceptions in the last two seasons, it suits him well. Whatever the 32-year-old vet has in the tank, Fangio will attempt to get the most possible miles out of it.
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Ryan Mundy, FS
We’ll find out soon enough if they can still carry a tune, but the band is getting back together after Mundy and Rolle first paired up in 2013 with the New York Giants. Mundy played SS last year with the Bears but has spent plenty of time at FS and should be able to make the change without too much trouble.
On the last year of a 2-year deal, Mundy is likely not the long-term solution at the position. We’ll see how Fangio’s defensive wizardry impacts him, however, and if he’s serviceable in the new scheme he could turn out to be a good value FA re-signing next offseason. If nothing else, the familiarity between Mundy and Rolle can’t hurt, and that will likely play a role in Mundy being named the starter.
The notable odd man out here is Brock Vereen. I’m not certain he has the size or physicality to play a prominent role in this re-tooled defense, plus he falls into the unenviable category of being a recent draft pick made by a coach and GM who are now out-of-town. He’ll have an uphill battle.
Next: Cornerbacks and Nickelback (not the Chad Kroeger version)