Chicago- IL —
Now that the NFL Lockout is almost over and free agency is impending, we can finally look to the 2011 season and our beloved team the Chicago Bears and how they can improve to the next level – the Super Bowl. Now it is debatable as to which side of the ball Offence or Defense the Bears should be looking at but my opinion is that last year they picked up the biggest free agent in Julius Peppers who is a defensive beast so this year they should look to improve the other side of the ball the O. If you don’t agree with me you are perfectly within your right but I would submit, the Chicago Bears where one of the worse teams on the offensive side of the ball statistically in the league on so many fronts that it is this side of the ball that is holding this team back from reaching the ne plus ultra.
Many times I hear when new players come to a team especially receivers coming in to quarterbacks that they have a new toy. I submit that this is totally inaccurate especially where the Bears are concerned. Toys are not necessities but entertaining distractions that one plays with. What the Bears need are tools that their quarterback can use to do his job adequately. I ask you would you let a cook make you a superb dinner without a sharp knife or seasonings, would we expect Picasso to churn masterpieces without a paint brush & paint? I can bet no one would want a surgeon to perform an operation without the proper scalpels & sutures, naturally we want our surgeon to make incisions with the greatest of precision & shouldn’t we want our quarterback to cut up the opposing defenses with that same skilled precision of a surgeon but can he really without the proper tools? Chicago Bears there’s no better time to equip your quarterback and your offence so let us take a look at all the shiny new tools that could be available through Free Agency.
Let’s start with the sexy tool – the wide receiver position.
Ok anyone that knows the Bears will concur that TO, Randy Moss, Plaxico, Ochocinco & Santonio Holmes will only end up playing with Jay Cutler in some fantasy league but they will never fit the Bears be seen but not heard moniker so we can rule them out of the running. I will be looking at what I feel are only viable options for the Chicago Bears to pick up in free agency Now I’m a firm believer in Sun Tzu principals if your opponent has an advantage take their weapons thereby making you stronger and them weaker and there are two divisional foes who fit the bill. Since the Packers are the reigning Super bowl champs it would be strategical advantage to take a 27 year old, avg career yard per carry 13.9 and durable James Jones.1 The knock on Jones has been he does have the dropsies but still stealing him from Green Bay would be little sweet. the other divisional foe would be the Vikings and we all know who I am referring to here. Sidney Rice has only had one good year but what a year it was with another gunslinging QB. He is a young 24 year old 14.6 career yards per catch avg. The only question about Rice is the severity of his hip injury and can he fully heal. Again it would be great to steal him from the Vikings.
Now for the remainder of the wide outs we need only look to both East & West coasts. In the west one team the San Diego Chargers is sure to let one of these two receivers go – Steven Jackson or Malcom Floyd. Steven Jackson is a coo and probably costs more than what the Bears want to spend but he is a monster with two years of over 1000 yards and an avg yard per catch of 17.2 yards and he desperately wants out of San Diego. Malcom Floyd maybe the more affordable solution for the Bears and he is a big tall receiver that could be a no. 1 on a team like the Bears which makes him an ideal fit to me. Now onto the east and Braylon Edwards. It is unlikely that the NY Jets will be keeping him and Santonio Holmes which could open the door for some team to come in and get him and why not the Bears? If the Bears keep insisting that their wide receiving corps are a strength and opt to go in a different directions then there is no denying they could use more help on the O- line. So let’s see who is looking to more there.
The meat and potatoes choice – Offensive Lineman
First the Bears need to sign Olin Kruetz and secure him because while he is in the backside of his career there is no question he brings stability to a very young and erratic line. The Bears can not have their QB hit the dirt a league high 52 times again. Again there are the big names which we can rule out due to salary demands or age or their current teams will not be letting them go and offering large extensions. In this group is Logan Mankins, Marcus McNeill, Ryan Kalil, Evan Mathis & Matt Light. From the Atlanta Falcons there are two lineman Tyson Clabo & Harvy Dahl they kept Matt Ryan upright with only 23 sacks and 64 QB hits during the regular season as compared to the Bears 56 sacks and 92 QB hits.
Jared Gaither is only 25 years old and the Ravens will probably be looking to move him out which could prove to be a solid choice although the Bears feel they are set at the Tackle position but second year Webb has much to prove so the jury is out on the Tackle position. Gaither could be a good solid pick up. The team where the Bears should go shopping at if they can is the New Orleans Saints where Jerome Bushrod and Carl Nicks. Nicks is a restricted free agent. The Saints O Line had only 26 sacks and 67 QB hits during the regular season and the Saints offence is always in the top 10 due in large part to their O-lineman giving Drew Brees time to pass the ball down field.
We have to wait and see what the final CBA looks like but one thing is for certain the teams’ cap space will be increased which means the Bears have money to spend; how much is yet to be known but at least 22mil is up for the offering and let us not forget the Bears recently restructured Julius Peppers contract that saves roughly $8 million in cap space for next season. 2 Now I personally believe if I was Jerry Angelo I would first secure Kruetz and then I would go for a O-lineman and with any leftovers go for a wide receiver but that’s just me. Jerry you shocked us when you got QB Jay Cutler and then last year you pulled off the impossible fee agency signing with Peppers, we ask you this year stun us again in free agency. Will this free agency be good news for Cutler and Offence I’m sure all Bears fans hope so. I know I wouldn’t be able to effectively do my job without a computer or all the tools I need and neither will Jay Cutler be effective without his tools.
1- all stats were taken from NFL.com
2- taken from chicago tribune article “Bears restructure Peppers contract”