NFL Chicago Bears

Top Five Offensive Tackles Chicago Bears Should Pursue in Offseason

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Top Five Offensive Tackles Chicago Bears Should Pursue in Offseason

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Over the past several season, it’s been no secret that the offensive line of the Chicago Bears has been arguably the worst in the league. The Bears seem to have just about every piece of the puzzle for an explosive offense.

For the first time in the past two decades, Chicago finally has a mainstay at the quarterback position with Jay Cutler. Matt Forte is one of the best all-around running backs in the league, and Brandon Marshall has proved to be the best wide receiver the Bears have ever had in their storied history.

The only thing that has held back Chicago’s offense is the play of their offensive line. Since the arrival of Cutler in 2009, the Bears’ offensive front has surrendered 184 sacks. This isn’t a good sign, considering the fact that Chicago now has a new offensive-minded head coach that is known for focusing on the passing game.

In order for Cutler and the Bears’ aerial attack to evolve, some drastic changes need to be made in the trenches. Though I do feel that they should address the O-line through the draft, they should also seek help via free agency in order to contend for a Super Bowl in 2013. Chicago can’t afford to wait for the maturation of multiple young linemen because they desperately need their offense to complement their aging defense.

Looking at how the Bears’ offensive line has performed in recent history, acquiring any free agent offensive lineman would easily be an upgrade. However, I will just focus on the offensive tackle position, and mention the top five players that should be on Chicago’s free agent list.

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5. Jake Long-Miami Dolphins

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Since coming into the league in 2008, Jake Long has been considered one of the best offensive linemen in the league. The number-one overall pick of the 2008 draft has been to the Pro Bowl in the first four years of his professional career. Unfortunately, that streak came to an end this season due to a torn triceps injury late in the year. Having a player of Long’s caliber at less than 100 percent is still probably better than what the Bears have at the offensive tackle position. If Chicago does go after Long, they’ll have to consider if it is worth giving a big contract to someone coming off such a serious injury.

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4. Branden Albert-Kansas City Chiefs

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The familiarity that Bears general manager Phil Emery has with Branden Albert may be a sign that Chicago could be the next landing spot for the five-year veteran. Emery was a part of the college scouting department in Kansas City, and knows what Albert is capable of. Albert, one of the most sought after free agent offensive tackles this upcoming offseason, and his versatility could definitely help the Bears’ offensive line. The 6-foot-5, 316 pounder played guard in college, and made a great transition to offensive tackle once entering the league. Albert’s durability is also a plus, having only missed six games in his five-year career.

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3. Jermon Bushrod-New Orleans Saints

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Jermon Bushrod could be a good fit for Chicago’s new offense, considering the fact that the Bears’ new offensive coordinator/offensive line coach, Aaron Kromer, coached him in New Orleans. Having someone like Bushrod who’s familiar with the offense will greatly benefit Chicago’s offensive front as far as communicating blocking assignments to the other O-linemen. Bushrod is no stranger to protecting the blindside of a quarterback. He’s been doing it since being named a starter in 2009 protecting some guy by the name of Drew Brees. Coincidently, the same year he took over at left tackle, New Orleans won the Super Bowl.

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2. Phil Loadholt-Minnesota Vikings

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Not only will Phil Loadholt be an upgrade at the offensive tackle position from a pass protection standpoint, but his run blocking will greatly help the Bears’ ground game as well. Loadholt was an important part of the 2,000-yard rushing year of Adrian Peterson, and the seasons that preceded it. The running game of Matt Forte will only get better with a mauling run blocker like Loadholt. Another great reason why Chicago should consider the four-year veteran is because of his great familiarity of going against the great pass rushers in the NFC North, teams that the Bears will meet twice a year.

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1. Ryan Clady-Denver Broncos

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Ryan Clady is probably the most athletic offensive lineman available in the free agent market, and at the young age of 26, is arguably one of the best. The three-time Pro Bowler was once teammates in Denver with Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. Reuniting Cutler with one former teammate worked out in 2012, so maybe making a move for Clady will end in the same results for the 2013 season. The mere mention of Clady’s name brought a smile to the face of Cutler at the end of the season. Just imagine how happy Cutler and the rest of Bears fans would be if Clady is chosen to anchor Chicago’s offensive line.

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