The Bears went into the offseason with a serious issue at their outside linebacker position. They only have star player Lance Briggs signed at one of the two outside linebacker position leaving no one to back him up or play on the other side. Right now, Brian Iwuh, Nick Roach, Pisa Tinoisamoa and Rod Wilson aren’t signed.
And with just one draft choice spent at the linebacker position (with J.T. Thomas) the Bears are going to have to do something and do it quick.
The most likely scenario is that the Bears will try to resign one or more of their free agent outside linebackers and have them come back to stabilize the position and give them some continuity there. Which of those free agents outside linebackers should the Bear’s sign?
Let’s take a look and see which players the Bears would want to have back and whether or not this is going to help them with their issues at the outside linebacker position in 2011.
Brian Iwuh-Iwuh was forced into the lineup when Briggs was out for a short amount of time with an injury last season and he actually played well. He is also a valuable member of the special teams but he won’t be a priority (to resign). However, if the Bears lose either Corey Graham or Rashied Davis (or both) they may want him back mostly due to his special teams value.
Rod Wilson-Wilson was brought in when Hunter Hillenmeyer went out with a concussion early last year and stuck with the team for the rest of the season. Wilson has played with the Bears off and on during the past few seasons and has been valuable on special teams but his skills as an outside linebacker leave a little something to be desired. Chicago may decide that he has some value on special teams and try to see if they can bring him back in and resign him.
Nick Roach-Roach has seen his time as a starter at the linebacker position and the Bears are going to make it a priority to sign him and get him back on the active roster. Roach was beaten out by Pisa Tinoisamoa during training camp last year and with Tinoisamoa a free agent as well (and with the Bears possibly not bringing him back) Roach may be the guy that they want to have back.
Pisa Tinoisamoa-Tinoisamoa spent a lot of time on the sideline with injuries during his two year career with the Bears so Chicago may not decide to bring him back. But, despite his injury issues they may think that they don’t have much of a choice because he is talented and can play when he’s healthy. The Bears just might have to bring him back and keep him around for another season.
J.T. Thomas-Thomas is a sixth round pick from this year’s draft and he has a long hill to climb in order just to make the team much less contribute to the defense. If he does make the active roster he will probably be relegated solely to special teams and may not get a chance to play the outside linebacker position.
Any position on a team is important and on the Bear’s defense all three linebacker positions are vital to the overall performance of the defense. If they are weak at one position, the guys at the other two positions will have to make up for it and that leaves room for a lot of mistakes and poor performance.
The Bears will have to bring some of these guys back in order to have success on defense in 2011 and if they are smart they will spend some time upgrading their outside linebacker position in the 2012. If they don’t they will suffer.