NFL Chicago Bears

5 Unrestricted Free Agent Safeties Chicago Bears Should Pursue

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5 Unrestricted Free Agent Safeties Chicago Bears Should Pursue

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This offseason, the Chicago Bears will be directing most of their attention to the defensive side of the ball. The 2013 season was by far the worst in the history of the franchise.

The Bears’ defense finished the year ranked dead last in defending the run (161.4 yards per game), was 30th in overall defense (394.6 YPG), and was tied for last with 31 sacks (10 less than what they accumulated in 2012).

Many are predicting that Chicago will use their 14th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft on a defensive lineman. This decision makes absolute sense, considering the fact that four of their D-linemen are unrestricted free agents, and defensive end Julius Peppers is on the decline and eating up major cap room.

Cutting ties with Peppers will give the Bears some cushion in their salary cap to pursue some free agents once March 11 comes around. Of course, general manager Phil Emery can look to the draft to upgrade both safety positions, which struggled all season long, but acquiring one via free agency could be even more beneficial.

Safety Chris Conte could find himself riding the bench next season, while fellow safety Major Wright may not get re-signed this offseason. In the event that both Conte and Wright are out of the starting lineup in 2014, Chicago should go after a veteran safety in free agency, in addition to selecting one during the second day of the draft.

There is a laundry list of safeties that will be available upon the official start of the offseason, but here are the five that I think the Bears should pursue.

Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller.

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5. Ryan Clark, Pittsburgh Steelers

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Ryan Clark has spent the majority of his career playing alongside a potential Hall of Famer in Troy Polamalu, and has played in two Super Bowls, winning one of them. Clark can be considered as one of the league’s underrated safeties, but the 12-year, 34-year-old veteran definitely won’t be a long-term option.

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4. Mike Adams, Denver Broncos

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Whether the Denver Broncos win Super Bowl XLVIII or not, Mike Adams may not be a part of their plans. The 10-year veteran could be another option used by Chicago to groom future starters in the secondary.

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3. Ryan Mundy, New York Giants

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With Super Bowl experience, and not having too many years taking a toll on him (six years of experience), Ryan Mundy could be a solid enough contributor for Chicago’s defense.

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2. Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills

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Jairus Byrd is a three-time Pro Bowler and a three-time All-Pro. Byrd’s ball-hawking mentality could help the Bears continue their tradition of being one of the best defenses in causing turnovers.

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1. Antoine Bethea, Indianapolis Colts

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Antoine Bethea is one of the NFL’s best safeties. The two-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion has proved to be durable, playing in all 16 regular-season games over the past six seasons. In addition, Bethea’s sure tackling skills could greatly help Chicago’s run defense.