Early Friday morning it was announced that outside linebacker Nick Roach has left the Chicago Bears in favor of the Oakland Raiders. Roach has been with Chicago his entire career after they drafted him out of Northwestern in 2007, most of the time backing up another Bears free agent linebacker Brian Urlacher. Last season, Roach compiled 66 tackles and 1.5 sacks as a starter.
In his career with the Bears, Roach has always been specifically a “fill-in” type of player. If Urlacher ever went down with an injury, he was there to step in because he knew the scheme. Never an incredibly gifted playmaker, Roach more or less just did his job and tried to limit mistakes.
When asked about what was most important to him as he entered this crazy free agency period, Roach added that he wanted to have the chance to win. Well, I guess you always “have a chance” on any given Sunday. I am not quite sure what Roach was thinking when he decided Oakland was the place for him. Actually, I do have an idea, it it happens to be of the color green.
Anyway, it is time for the Bears to move on now and worry about finding a replacement. The only question is, will they address it in the draft or from within? Not many people would think they Bears would go toward a “next man up” strategy. However, it is a possibility.
With GM Phil Emery already stating he will absolutely draft the best available players, it might shake out in a way that Chicago does not draft a linebacker in earlier rounds. If that is the case, it could be time for special teams standout Blake Costanzo to step up and challenge for a starting role. Costanzo appeared on defense in a limited role last year and did most of his damage on special teams.
Costanzo has been around for seven seasons in the NFL, most recently appearing on the San Francisco 49ers roster, again as a special teams player. He has had a reputation to be a hard working, high energy guy for each team he has played with. For the Bears, this is encouraging.
If Costanzo is not the answer, I assume the Bears will address this need through the draft. An option that Emery has not turned down has been the possibility to trade down in the draft for an extra pick. Both Emery and head coach Marc Trestman are thorough and well prepared guys, so I would be confident that going this route could be a positive move for Chicago.
In any event, the Bears should be just fine without Roach going forward. Many believe this marks an opportunity for the Bears to finally reach an agreement in bringing back Urlacher, as the market for him has not been too great. For Bears fans, they are just fine with that. So far Emery has made all the right moves in Chicago’s eyes. Let’s hope that continues with one of the most legendary positions in franchise history.