Bears 2016 Free Agent Options: Inside Linebacker
Zach Brown, Titans (26) – A 2nd round pick in 2012 who looked like a long-term starter early in his career, but has struggled to stay healthy since. Brown racked up 183 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 4 interceptions, 2 TD returns, and 10 pass defenses over his first two years but has made only six starts since due to a torn pectoral muscle.
When on the field, Brown (6’1, 244) excelled in pass coverage, but struggled at times against the run. The talent is there for Brown to be a well-rounded ILB and he’s still only 26 so still has time to improve his run defense. Brown is a potentially high-upside option who shouldn’t cost much for the Bears to roll the dice on.
Sean Spence, Steelers (25) – Former 3rd round pick in 2012 who spent the first two years of his NFL career on the sidelines due to a serious knee injury suffered in his first preseason, but has started 13 games over the last two seasons and flashed legit NFL ability. Spence has been a reliable reserve for the Steelers, filling in when starter Ryan Shazier has been injured.
Spence has flashed natural run-stopping instincts and attacks the line of scrimmage aggressively, but his lack of height (5’11) makes him a liability covering tight ends. He is probably best off as an early down player or back-up like he was in Pittsburgh, but his above-average range, athleticism, and run-stopping instincts could be an upgrade over the Bears current ILB group. Spence has also been a solid special teams contributor which could make him a more viable free agent target than a similarly priced player like Shea McClellin.