The Chicago Bears may not have the most money to play with out of the teams that are looking to add pieces when free agency starts next week, but there are holes that they are going to be forced to fill, and the crop of free agents could provide some nice potential pieces for them to add.
One position where the Bears will likely look to add in free agency will be at the defensive end spot. With no guarantee that Corey Wootton will be back, and with the likely removal of Julius Peppers from the equation (unless Peppers agrees to a pretty substantial restructuring of his deal), the Bears are going to need to add a guy or two at that spot in order to bolster the anemic pass rush that doomed their season last year.
For the Bears’ purposes at the position, they probably aren’t thinking of guys like Michael Johnson and Michael Bennett, since both players are likely to get long-term deals that the team simply cannot afford with all of the other needs that they have to address.
One potential player could be Seattle Seahawks defensive end Red Bryant. He didn’t have the best of seasons in 2013, only picking up 1.5 sacks and 23.5 tackles in 15 games, but at only 29 years of age (he will turn 30 in April), Bryant could be a nice cheap option, and he would fit in well with the system that the Bears will look to employ next season.
Another guy who is a little bit down the list in terms of available free agents would be Giants DE Justin Tuck. Last season he had 11 sacks and 41 tackles, but it doesn’t appear that New York is going to be bringing him back as they attempt to get a bit younger and cheaper on the defensive side of the ball.
Tuck’s name recognition may price him out of the Bears’ range, but with the possibility that the team could create a little bit of cap space by restructuring Jay Cutler’s contract, Tuck could be the type of guy who could come in on a two or three year contract and provide some nice punch for the Bears up front.
One other potential option at defensive end could come in the form of 28-year old Robert Ayers, who racked up 5.5 sacks and 23 tackles for the Denver Broncos last season. He is coming off a career season, so his price may be slightly inflated, but it’s hard to argue with a guy who played a solid season in 15 games for a squad that had one of the more improved defenses in the NFL.
Teams can begin negotiating with agents beginning on Sunday, with free agency officially kicking off on Tuesday. We’ll have all the latest news and rumors here on Grizzly Detail as the day approaches.