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Best and worst offseason moves: Chicago Bears
- Updated: April 4, 2013
Following a 2012 campaign in which they finished 10-6 and just missed the playoffs, the Chicago Bears front office has been busy the past three months. They fired their head coach, replaced him with a virtual unknown from Canada, and released longtime face of the franchise, linebacker Brian Urlacher. On top of that, three starters from last year have signed with other teams, and they have brought in several free agents in an effort to improve the talent and depth of the team.
The 2013 NFL Draft might still be a few weeks off, but what the hell. Let’s take the ridiculously audacious step of rating the best and worst offseason moves general manager Phil Emery has made so far this offseason.
Signing tight end Martellus Bennett was a stroke of genius. Tight end was one of most glaring weaknesses in Chicago’s offense last year, as Kellen Davis struggled horrifically with drops and was never really able to do much of anything. Bennett, meanwhile, shined in his first season as a starter, grabbing 55 passes for 626 yards and five touchdowns while also being a very solid blocker. If he can maintain that form in Chicago, he will help in both the running and passing games.
Honorable mention here goes to the volume of cheap veterans the Bears have been able to sign, leaving them with no glaring holes that they absolutely have to fill in the first round of the upcoming draft.
Don’t get me wrong: Chicago still has areas of need, most notably interior offensive line, speed wide receiver, youth at linebacker, and cornerback depth. But none of those needs is so pressing that it will force Emery to draft someone he is not entirely comfortable with simply because he needs a body at that position.
Emery has made two somewhat risky moves that deserve mention.
The first is the turnover of the linebacking core. Three of Chicago’s top four linebackers from a year ago — Brian Urlacher, Nick Roach, and Geno Hayes — departed in free agency and were replaced with capable veterans D.J. Williams and James Anderson. None of them were star players at this point in their careers, but Urlacher and Roach were valuable for their familiarity with the defense and ability to call plays and ensure everyone lined up correctly. Coupled with the departure of defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, the loss of these players may have a noticeable impact on the defense in 2013.
The other is the signing of left tackle Jermon Bushrod to a five-year contract worth over $35 million. Despite the fact that Bushrod made the Pro Bowl in both 2011 and 2012, many people consider him overrated and believe Chicago overpaid. I am not going to bash this move too badly, though, as Bushrod is at least a competent left tackle (if not a star one), something the Bears have not had in far too long.
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