The Chicago Bears are entering a crucial period for the new regime. Phil Emery is entering his second offseason as GM and now he’s got his hand-picked head coach in Marc Trestman as they try to re-shape a 10-6 team into a consistent playoff team.
The Bears made their first big move of the offseason by applying the franchise tag to defensive tackle Henry Melton, eating up about $8.5 million of their estimated $12 million in salary cap space. The rest of their free agency plan must involve restructuring contracts or clearing cap room or else they won’t be able to make many moves.
Notable free agents:
Henry Melton (Franchised)
None of their remaining guys figure to carry a huge price tag, but with less than $4 million left in cap space and an estimated $3.5 million needed for the rookie pool, every penny will count.
The biggest and most emotional decision the Bears need to make in free agency is what do to with Brian Urlacher. He’s been the face of the franchise for 14 years and there are a lot of #54′s in the stands every Sunday. The Bears need to approach this one carefully. They want to give Urlacher the proper respect but can’t break the bank on a 35 year old middle linebacker who’s coming off an injury-plagued season.
Assuming the Bears can create some cap space with a couple of cuts (Devin Hester and Kellen Davis are tops on the list) and possibly a couple of extensions (Charles Tillman and Julius Peppers might be good candidates), they would definitely be in the market to get an offensive lineman or two like Jermon Bushrod, a pass catching tight end like Jared Cook or Dustin Keller and a linebacker regardless of what they do with Urlacher.
Josh majored in journalism at Seton Hill University and is currently Editor-in-Chief for FanSided.com and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Prior to joining FanSided.com as editor, Josh was senior editor at NFLSpinZone.com, TheLandryHat.com, CagePages.com and NFLMocks.com. His work has been featured on various media outlets including: ESPN.com, SportsIllustrated.com, NFL.com, FOXSports.com and CBSSports.com. You can e-mail Josh at [email protected]