The post lockout off-season has so far lived up to the hype with tons of undrafted FA signings, plenty of unrestricted free agent speculation, trade talks, and surprising veteran cuts. The Bears have been in the middle of off-season firestorm with their name involved with plenty of free agents. General Manager Jerry Angelo along with Director of Player Personnel Tim Ruskell will have their work cut out for them trying to make the necessary moves to get this team over the hump.
Here are my thoughts on the transaction and speculation linked to the Bears so far in this off-season.
On the undrafted FA
The Bears signed 19 undrafted FA's today with 10 of them being defensive players and 9 offensive. The most intriguing name of the 19 is former Oregon State C Alex Linnenkohl. Most draft publications had him as a top 5 prospect at his position and thought that he can become a starter in a year or two. We have experience OL coach Mike Tice take young lineman and make them his personal project (J'Marcus Webb comes to mind), so it's not too farfetched that a strong road grading C like Linnenkohl can become Tice latest project.
On Offense Free Agent names that have been linked to the Bears
Haven't heard too many offensive lineman speculation for the Bears, but I'm pretty sure they have a plan in FA for that department (They can't possibly go into the season with just one upgrade right?). However, the Bears have been linked to skill position players like Receivers Plaxico Burress, Mike Sims-Walker, Roy Williams, and the Jets utility guy Brad Smith. Plaxico have been on record of saying that the Bears are one of his top 3 choices. Not much the vertical receiver Martz covets in his scheme, but at 6-5 he's definitely has the size to be a playmaker, and before being locked up was consider as one of the elite WR's in the league. Mike Sims-Walker might appeal more to me because he's younger and was on his way to being a legit primary receiver before injuries got to him. He's the type of receiver that can emerge paired with Jay Cutler and you've got to like his confidence...
"Chicago would be one of the ideal spots for me,'' Mike Sims-Walker said Monday. "With the offensive coordinator (Mike Martz) and Jay Cutler, the speedy receivers, the monster defense, and Matt Forte in the backfield, I think I can be the missing piece."
Roy Williams I really wouldn't want to see here, but would understand the move given the shorten off-season and his familiarity with Martz system. Brad Smith would be a great addition if he's not brought to Chicago to be the answer at WR. If he is brought here with the thought in mind to be that all-round utility guy like how the Jets used him I'm fine with the move.
On Defense Free Agents names that have been linked to the Bears
No surprise that the Bears are expected to move forward from Danieal Manning and make Major Wright and Chris Harris the starting safeties. The surprise is the name that was blowing up my Twitter timeline last night Titans DE Jason Babin who just came off a breakout season. If it was any DL position that I thought the Bears would look at it would be DT. I don't know if I believe the Bears have interest in Babin, but then again we know how much Angelo, HC Lovie Smith, and DC Rod Marinelli put a premium on pass rushers. Another name that was floating around my timeline is Jaguars LB Justin Durant where I read the Bears like a lot. You most likely could see Durant signed along with Nick Roach and Brian Iwuh being back.
Bears fans should expect more FA names to pop up during the week.