While the Chicago Bears have addressed many needs this offseason, linebacker has become a position that appears to be the Bears’ weak link. As of this writing, the only true linebacker that is not better suited for special teams is Lance Briggs. And for a team as rich in tradition at the linebacker as the Chicago Bears are, this is a very unusual spot to be in.
While linebacker was one of the positions that many felt would be a need for the Bears, that need became much more apparent with the loss of Nick Roach. Roach signed a reported three or four year deal with the Oakland Raiders on Friday afternoon. While Roach was not a top level Pro Bowl caliber linebacker, his loss still hurts. With Roach the Bears had a solid linebacker that was very versatile going between outside linebacker and middle linebacker as needed. Roach had developed into a strong presence that truly helped the Bears defense when on the field.
Not only did the Bears lose Roach, but there is great uncertainty with one of the NFL‘s all time greats in middle linebacker Brian Urlacher. While the two sides have exchanged proposals, no one is sure whether Urlacher will be in a Bears uniform next season or not. The latest news was that Urlacher had talked with the Minnesota Vikings.
To see Urlacher in a Vikings uniform just would not be right. It is such a tragedy when you see players playing out the final years of their careers in a uniform other than the ones that they are famous for. While Urlacher is not the player he once was, he could still be effective, and his leadership is something that simply cannot be replaced. And do not think for one second that the Bears are not taking the leadership factor into consideration.
The Bears I am sure have a plan in place when it comes to the linebacker position. That being said, it is very concerning seeing the Bears only having one true linebacker on the roster for 2013 at this time. The rumor is out there that the Bears could move second year defensive end Shea McClellin to linebacker. So far that is a move that the Bears and their coaches are denying and being a bit tight lipped about.
The good news is that the moves the Bears made on day one of free agency gives them flexibility when it comes to the 2013 NFL Draft. So that could be where the Bears go to address the linebacker need with their first round draft pick. There are some intriguing options at the linebacker position within the NFL Draft this year. Either way, the Bears are going to have to address the linebacker position because it is now truly their biggest need.