We’re one week removed from the Bears’ draft and you’ll hear most people say that the Bears did a good job addressing two key needs in the first couple rounds of the 2011 NFL Draft but drafted poorly in the later rounds.
However, there is no reason to panic. The Bears can address other deficiencies on their roster in the upcoming free agency…that is if we have one of course due to the lockout.
Here’s a list of free agents that the Bears could target…
(I’m listing some players who are restricted free agents and have already been franchise tagged. The reason for that is because there’s a possibility that they could become unrestricted free agents once the league and the player’s union sign a new collective bargaining agreement.)
Tyson Clabo – Atlanta Falcons: Clabo is a tough run blocker that would help create some nice holes for Matt Forte. The Bears, though, seem to like J’Marcus Webb at the right tackle position and want to continue to develop him so it seems unlikely that the Bears would pursue Clabo.
Harvey Dahl – Atlanta Falcons: Dahl would be another nice choice; he’s great in pass protection which would obviously help quarterback Jay Cutler. He would be a huge upgrade over the aging Roberto Garza.
Doug Free – Dallas Cowboys: Free is considered to be the best run blocker in the league and he allowed a grand total of 5 sacks in 2010. He’s gone up against some of the best defensive ends in the NFL and has done a great job stopping them. For a Bears team that gave up 56 sacks in 2010, the decision to go after Free is a no-brainer.
That year, he had Brett Favre’s strong arm throwing passes to him and he would excel too with Cutler, who also has a strong arm. Rice was hampered by a hip injury in 2010 that limited him to six games and he’s ready for a bounce back year in 2011.
Vincent Jackson – San Diego Chargers: Jackson is a big receiver at 6’5’’ with great feet and balance. He had back to back 1,000+ reception yard seasons in 2008 and 2009 but he sat for most of the season in 2010, holding out for a new contract. He’s also had some off the field issues that might force the Bears to look for different options. Nevertheless, Jackson has the talent that the Bears desperately need.
Steve Smith – New York Giants: Smith is another guy who had a breakout year in 2009 and was on his way to another really good season in 2010 before an injured knee sidelined him for the year, he only appeared in nine games. Smith is a 5’11’’ possession receiver with good hands and blocks very well and despite his small size, he can get open.
Cullen Jenkins – Green Bay Packers: There are rumors out there that the Bears are very interested in signing Jenkins, and why not? He’s a great
pass rusher who can disrupt some of the league’s best offensive linemen. He averaged seven sacks last season and would fit in nicely as the number two defensive end behind Julius Peppers.
Mathias Kiwanuka – New York Giants: Kiwanuka is another fantastic pass rusher with nice height and a very quick first step. The Giants are loaded with talent on their defensive line, which might make Kiwanuka expendable for the Bears to snatch him up.
Nnamdi Asomugha – Oakland Raiders: Asomugha is the man the Bears need to get in this free agency. He does great in coverage and is a beast when it comes to tackling. Quarterbacks in the league are clearly scared to
throw at him and with good reason, considering Asomugha only allowed 10 receptions (of 27 passes that were thrown his way) in 2010. If the Bears sign him, it will be the second year in a row that the Bears have acquired the top defensive free agent available.
Antonio Cromartie – New York Jets: Cromartie does extremely well in down field coverage, nice size and can be physical with physical receivers. He intercepted 10 passes in 2007 when he was a member of the San Diego Chargers but those numbers have come down quite a bit. However, he can still make a play when he does get his hands on the ball.
Ronde Barber – Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Barber is 132 years old and if the Bears were to sign him, it would signify that they’re only looking for a temporary solution in 2011 at the cornerback position. Barber is familiar with Bears head coach Lovie Smith from Smith’s days as an assistant with the Bucs and Barber is even more familiar with the Cover 2 defense that the Bears run. Barber didn’t have a terrible 2010 season but he’s not the same player that he was in the early to mid 2000’s. If the Bears choose to go in this direction, it would more than likely be a one year contract making this a small gamble. If Barber’s performance becomes an issue, the Bears would still have Tim Jennings who did an adequate job at the cornerback position in 2010.