Heading into this 2014 NFL free-agency period, there’s no question that both safety positions on the Chicago Bears‘ defense needed to be upgraded. Chris Conte, who’s still under contract, was the free safety a year ago and was absolutely horrendous in coverage. The strong safety was Major Wright, and even though he’s slightly better than Conte in my opinion, he wasn’t all that impressive either and isn’t expected to be re-signed now that he’s a free agent.
During these first five or so hours that the free-agent market has been live, the Bears did somewhat address the safety position with the signing of former New York Giant Ryan Mundy. The run-stopping safety started a career-high nine games last year for the G-Men and was about average. He did have 77 tackles on the year, but only had one interception and two pass deflections. Before that season, he spent four seasons on the Pittsburgh Steelers as only a special teamer and backup.
Now, hopefully that’s the plan moving forward for Mundy. He should really only be a special teamer and backup, and in those roles, he can thrive. However, if the Bears have any notions of possibly starting him and Conte together … I might have to go strangle somebody.
The Bears need more reliable players in the secondary. They can’t just have one guy who’s good against the run and another who’s good at nothing, because that’s what they’d have in Mundy and Conte, respectively. Can they both be effective backups and special teamers? Yes, I’d like to think so. But it’s clear GM Phil Emery needs to have a different plan. Or at least that’s what I’m praying at this point.
Out there in the free-agent market are guys like Jairus Byrd, Chris Clemons, Thomas Decoud and Kerry Rhodes. Not that all of those guys would be monumental upgrades, other than Byrd who will definitely take a nice paycheck to bring in, but they at least have some talent. Truth be told, they need to try and bring one of those guys in with the money they just saved from cutting Julius Peppers, and then they need to draft another safety within the first couple rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft. While I see them going DT or DE with the No. 14 overall pick, the second round will hopefully bring a defensive back — preferably a safety — to Chicago.
After all, fixing the defense is the main, if not the entire focus of this offseason for the Bears. Obviously, rebuilding the defensive line should be priority No. 1 and they made a splash today signing Lamarr Houston; and of course, they’ll probably need to bring in one or two more guys including their first draft pick to shore up that unit. But, their second-biggest priority is definitely the defensive backfield, especially both safety positions.
And I’m sorry, but Mundy and Conte won’t cut it. Wright is probably better than both of him, and I don’t even want him back. So, Mr. Emery, I hope you’ve got a more intensive plan, because right now, there aren’t even rumors of another safety coming in for a visit. In the next couple days at the very least, that better change.