Bears 2016 Free Agent Options: Inside Linebacker

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /
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Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports
Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports /

Starting caliber

Vincent Rey, Bengals (28) – Has 316 tackles over the last two seasons in just 21 starts. The former undrafted free agent from Duke is shorter than ideal (6’2) and a step slow, but he’s produced whenever given a chance. Rey’s unusually long arms make up for a lack of height and his football instincts allow him to play faster than his timed speed (4.70). The Bears have a clear need at ILB and if they can’t afford Trevathan, then Rey is a solid alternative.

Derrick Johnson, Chiefs (33) – I think the Bears will look for a younger ILB to build their defense around, but if they are looking for a veteran presence there isn’t a better one available than Johnson. Despite his old age, he has made the Pro Bowl in four of the last five seasons including last year when Johnson was named 2nd team All-Pro. He was the only 3-4 ILB to finish in the top eight against both the run and pass last season according to Pro Football Focus, so he clearly still has something left in the tank. Johnson could give the Bears a solid veteran presence for a season or two while they develop a replacement.

Rolando McClain, Cowboys (26) – The former 8th pick overall in 2010 who briefly retired in 2013 due to poor play on the field and a series of incidents off the field. McClain rebuilt his career with the Cowboys in 2014 and has been an above-average ILB the last two seasons. He has always been solid in coverage, but McClain significantly improved his run defense with the Cowboys making him a viable starter in the middle. There are still some off-field question marks to worry about though as McClain received a 4-game suspension last year for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.