GREEN BAY, WI - FILE: Wide receiver Plaxico Burress #17 of the New York Giants reacts to the crowd during the NFC championship game against the Green Bay Packers on January 20, 2008 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. According to reports on March 4, 2011, Burress wil be released from prison in June, three months early, for good behavior. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Let me make note from the onset that this isn't an indictment of any of these players. Every single one of them would make the Chicago Bears better in some fashion. But let's be real, for a second, talent isn't everything. Stability, character, contract size, scheme familiarity and value in the system all matter. This isn't Cincinnati, Washington or Dallas. This is Chicago. Say what you will about Angelo and Smith, but they have never overlooked these important factors just to add a shiny jersey-seller to the roster, and I respect that.
With that said, follow me to the clearing at the end of the jump and we'll take a look together at a few players that I would bet the house on being anywhere but in the Second City come the 2011 season.....
Plaxico Burress: The idea of having a large receiver who fights for the ball over the middle fearlessly and can make things happen after the catch is oh so alluring, but Plaxico won't end up in Chicago. First, he's 34 years old. That isn't ancient for a WR, but it is old. Follow that up with the fact that Burress hasn't played in two years and you get a guy who is old and will need time to get back up to speed. Throw in a complex offensive system and what you get is a guy without a lot of time left who is likely going to need a lot of time to get up to speed. Oh, and he was stupid enough to shoot himself on accident, which I cannot possibly believe endears him to a guy like Mike Martz who has an affinity for intelligent players. The character issues alone would probably have been enough to turn up the FOs collective nose, so I really don't see how the idea of Burress being the Second City Savior ever becomes a reality.
Reggie Bush: Bush has all the physical talent in the world, and his skill set alone has to be ungodly impressive to a guy like Martz who once turned an above average RB in Marshall Faulk into one of the best to ever grace the field. But Bush isn't Faulk, and I don't think even Martz could make him into anything more than Matt Forte with more speed and less value. Don't get me wrong, Bush is a talented human being, and he would benefit greatly from working with Mike Martz. But he will command a high salary, will want to start, and will not provide the security of Matt Forte. Blocking isn't in his repertoire, for one. Tough yards also elude him. And as good as he is after the catch, he doesn't have Forte's (much less Faulk's) versatility as a receiver. Forte can make the spectacular catch. Forte can fight off a physical corner or safety. And Forte doesn't shy away from a hit when he hears those footsteps. None of those things can be said for Bush. I don't see the Bears considering Bush when Forte is closer to what Faulk was than Bush will ever be. Another thought to add......what can Bush do that Devin Hester cannot? If Martz really wanted to run the types of plays bush would excel at over Forte, why hasn't he done so with Hester, who is just as fast, runs better routes and has better hands and is just as explosive with the ball?
Mike Sims-Walker: I'm not a Sims-Walker hater. I like the guy, and think that in a decent offensive system he would be a 1000 yard receiver consistently. But I think two things work against Sims-Walker. He isn't consistent in any manor and he's not special in any manner. He's a slightly bigger version of Earl Bennett. Without Torry Holt to take the heat off of him last season, he floundered. He wasn't bad. He has decent hands, he runs decent routes and he gets decent separation. But that's just it. It's all just decent. In fact, I think if Bennett had Sims-Walker's body type, he would be a far better receiver. Some of Sims-Walker's problem revolved around scheme and some more of it revolved around QB issues. But to be fair, some of Jimmy Clausen's issues revolved around Sims-Walker, as well. And I don't think that will be lost on Martz. Honestly I don't see the Bears running down a slightly above average receiver. I don't see how it will make the team significantly better when they already have three slightly above average receivers in Knox, Hester and Bennett. Add to that the the fact that Sims-Walker has expressed a desire to go to Miami, who has expressed a desire in him. Now, of all of the players I am listing, Sims-Walker is the most borderline because, as I noted above, a lot of his problems were his surroundings, and I don't believe he's done growing. Growing under Martz could do him a world of good. But I think that the Bears will be looking for a more plug-and-play option if they make a break for a bigger name receiver, not a project (albeit one that could pay dividends for years) and I think that in the end, "Win now" will play out in this case.
Nnamdi Asomugha: This one is simple. Forget Nnamdi ever coming to Chicago. Why? Because this defense is dependent on three major needs: Defensive linemen that can get pressure or create opportunities for the players around them to get pressure by drawing double teams (hence the need for a above average 3Tech), a middle linebacker that can get sideline to sideline and is adept in zone coverage and a set of safeties that can cut losses if a big play does happen and who can break on the ball if the opportunity arises (especially the free safety spot). Corners in this system have to be able to play zone effectively, tackle and support the run. And they don't have to be elite at any of these things. The defense is described as a bend but don't break scheme for a reason. It's OK if the Bears defense doesn't lead the league in passing yardage. The idea is to minimize damage with the safeties while creating turnover opportunities via pressure. The Bears can dominate in this defense with average corners, as seen in '05 and '06, as well as last year. For that reason alone, I cannot see the Bears shelling out what will end up being the biggest contract in Chicago Bears history for a position that would be adequately filled by retaining the players who started last season. An upgrade would be nice, and don't get me wrong, Asomugha is undeniably good and has no weakness in his game. But Ike Taylor, Antonio Cromartie , Josh Wilson, Carlos Rogers and Chris Carr are all good corners with fine zone coverage skills that would be an immediate and noticeable upgrade for a fraction of the cost. I don't just doubt an Asomugha signing, but I think it would be irresponsible as long as a salary cap is in place.
What do ya think, Bears fans? Am I off base here? I haven't listed all of the players I could have (or even a quarter of the ones I have in my notes) and I'm sure there are some opinions out there about other players who have been linked to Chicago that the BS card should be thrown at. Sound off and Bear Down!