5 Free Agents the Chicago Bears Should Target This Offseason
Chicago Bears: 5 Potential Free Agent Targets
Year one of the Marc Trestman era was, for the most part, a success. While the Chicago Bears did not make the playoffs, the team went 8-8 and were in a winner-take-all game for the NFC North in the last week of the regular season. Unfortunately, they lost to the Green Bay Packers in that game, but they have built a solid foundation for the future.
Trestman is known as an offensive guru, and he certainly did not disappoint on that side of the ball in 2013. Even though the team was without quarterback Jay Cutler multiple times this season, the Bears were second in the NFL in total scoring, averaging 27.8 points per game.
With established offensive weapons like Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte holding strong and Alshon Jeffery emerging as one of the best receivers in the league, the Bears' offense was one of the best in the league. Also, the offensive line was much better then it had been in years past, giving Cutler and backup Josh McCown plenty of time to throw.
The Bears have already answered their biggest question mark of the offseason when they decided to re-sign Cutler to a long term extension. Trestman obviously believes in Cutler and thinks that he is the guy to take this team to the promised land.
While the offense was incredible, the defense for the Bears was awful in 2013. The Bears gave up 29.9 points per game which was the second most in the NFL, better than only the Minnesota Vikings who allowed an even 30. Chicago allowed 161.4 rushing yards per game, which was far and away the most in the league. Sure, injuries played a huge role, but so did pure lack of talent and inexperience. The Chicago offense should pretty much be set, so the Bears should really be putting their offseason assets into their defense.
The Bears will not have a ton of cap space this offseason, but with some maneuvering they should be able to land a few impact free agents. Here are 5 free agents that I think GM Phil Emery should be targeting.
5. Brandon Spikes, LB
The New England Patriots will surely be looking to bring him back, but if linebacker Brandon Spikes reaches the open market, the Bears need to be interested. Spikes is one of the best run stuffing linebackers in the entire league. He is a bit of an odd fit for the Bears' system, but I believe his skills could translate to be a MLB in a 4-3 defense. Simply put, the Bears need to stop the run, and Spikes would be a huge help in that department.
4. Pat Angerer, LB
Pat Angerer would be a great fit schematically for the Bears. He is not an incredible run stuffer like Spikes, but he is above average in run defense. He also has nice athletic ability that helps him in pass coverage and rushing the passer. It is always hard to predict how much money teams will spend, but Angerer should also be a fairly inexpensive option.
3. Julian Edelman, WR
While the Bears' offense does not really need to get better, adding another receiving option is never a bad thing. Julian Edelman has had a great season working out of the slot with Tom Brady and the Patriots, hauling in 105 receptions for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns. The Bears have two incredible receivers on the outside, and one of the only things missing in their offense is a slot guy. Edelman is one of the best in the business and would continue to flourish with Chicago. Because of his great season, Edelman may be priced out for the Bears, but they should definitely be targeting him.
2. Ryan Clark, S
Both safeties struggled mightily for the Bears this season.Chris Conte and Major Wright have proved over and over again that they should not be starting in the NFL. They both consistently get burned deep, are always out of position and are almost no help in the run game. One thing that the Bears' defense lacked in 2013 was a veteran leader. Ryan Clark has a ton of experience and would certainly help them leadership wise. He may not be as athletically gifted as he used to be, but you can always count on him to be in the right position. The Bears simply must address the safety position, and Clark seems like a nice fit.
1. Paul Soliai, DT
The Bears must find a way to improve their rush defense this offseason, and adding some beef on the defensive line certainly would not hurt. Chicago was killed with injuries up front in 2013, and that was a big reason why they struggled so much against the run. Their best defensive tackle, Henry Melton, is a free agent. They either need to re-sign him or replace him.
Whether the Bears bring back Melton or not, Paul Soliai seems like an ideal fit. At 6-foot-4 and weighing 340-pounds, Soliai is a monster up front. He does a great job of eating up blocks to free up the linebackers to make plays and also stuffing the run himself. Soliai would give the Bears a much-needed run stuffing defensive lineman, and at 30-years-old he has plenty of career left.