With the way things are headed in lockout negotiations, it's feasible that the Bears will start free agency by this weekend. If you, like all of us at Grizzly Detail headquarters, are hungry for any football news that doesn't involve the lockout, this is great, splendid and worthy of dancing in the streets.
This is the kind of news that makes fans get excited about the possibility of the Bears signing every hot free agent on the market. With the money they have to spend, there is reason to be excited. But before the free agent frenzy starts, let's talk specifics about what to expect.
-- According to the Sports Business Journal, the league will allow teams and agents three days to study the new collective bargaining agreement, then three days for teams to sign undrafted free agents and players who were the team last season before full free agency starts. That means that the Bears will already have a good idea of what their needs are, because they'll know if Olin Kreutz, Danieal Manning, Anthony Adams and other key free agents are on the team.
-- The Bears aren't going to sign Plaxico Burress. I want it. You want it. He wants it. But that doesn't mean that Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith want it.
-- In fact, don't expect the Bears to go after a big-name wide receiver. The Bears don't have a true No. 1 receiver, but they made it to the NFC Championship without one in the first year under a new, complicated offense. They may pick up someone for depth, but it's not going to be the guy who helped you win your fantasy league.
-- The lines are what matter. Re-signing Adams and Kreutz is crucial, but keeping an eye out on the market will be important, too.
-- The extended off-season gave the Bears staff extra time to study available players. In the past, free agency started March 1. Even in years that the Bears didn't make the playoffs, the team barely had two months to prepare for free agency, and it was always before the draft. With the odd timing that the lockout created, the Bears know their needs and who is available better than they ever have. It's hard to do, but trust the experience of Jerry Angelo when free agency does begin.