Thanks for the positive feedback. So as threatened / promised, I'm back to write about the Bears free agents. This time I'm concentrating on the defensive side of the ball. So join me after the jump for my take on possible moves the Bears make.Amobi Okoye - DT - Had a decent first season in Chicago, the former Texans 1st rounder registered 4 sacks while showing flashes of what he is capable of. He is still only 24 and with more time working with Rod Marinelli, we could see a dominant inside pass rusher. I think he will receive some interest from other teams and so the Bears should move to lock him into a deal sooner rather than later.
Verdict - If the Bears move quickly I think he sticks around.
Israel Idonije - DE - Had a solid season against the run but was inconsistent rushing the QB. His sack total was down this year even though Julius Peppers was still commanding double teams and Henry Melton at times was a beast in the middle. He seems to have lost half a step and was less disruptive this season than he was in 2010, given his age (31) is this just a one season blip ? or the start of a terminal decline ? If the Bears can add a premier Pass Rushing DE in free agency or the draft, Idonije becomes expendable.
Verdict - I think the Bears will be prepared to allow him to walk.
Zackary Bowman - CB - His deficiencies in coverage were exposed for everyone to see against the Packers, Rodgers abused him all night and I think that game signalled the end for Bowman in Chicago. The 2008 5th rounder never really progressed after a promising first season in 2009 and will find himself looking for another team.
Verdict - He's done in Chicago.
Corey Graham - ST/CB - The Special Teams standout and part time defensive back had an excellent year, being voted to the Pro-Bowl for his Special Teams play. He also filled in admirably when DJ Moore was out, collecting interceptions in 3 consecutive games. Given his stated desire to play more on defense I think Graham will walk this offseason, it wouldn't do any harm to try to keep him around, but ultimately I believe he finds a home elsewhere.
Verdict - Will get an offer to play defense somewhere else.
Tim Jennings - CB - I don't know where the Tim Jennings hate comes from, he is a solid if, unspectacular, corner who is a great fit for the Bears defensive scheme. He's good in run support and tackles well despite his size, his hands are not the best (he drops too many interceptions for my liking) but he can be counted on to give 100%. He had a decent 2011 season, apart from maybe the second half of the Seahawks game in which he was awful, and so I think he should be brought back for 2012. The Bears do need to add at least one corner in the Draft or Free Agency to challenge Jennings for the spot opposite Tillman.
Verdict - Bears bring him back.
Brandon Meriweather - S - There were reasons why the former Pro Bowler was released by the Patriots, his lack of discipline being chief among them. I have to admit I thought that a new environment and high character team mates (Urlacher, Peppers & Tillman) would help him knuckle down and get back to Pro Bowl form. Instead his bad play in the Chicago secondary, taking bad angles in run support, missing tackles and ill discipline (that late hit on Nate Burleson comes to mind) led to him not being trusted to be on the field much by the end of the season. I think Meriweather will be looking for a new home very soon.
Verdict - The Brandon Meriweather experiment is over in Chicago.
Craig Steltz - S - Proved his doubters (including myself) wrong towards the end of the season with his solid play filling in for Major Wright. Was once again very good on Special Teams and showed he can be counted on to play defense when needed, Steltz may have just played himself into a new contract. I think he adds sorely needed depth at the Safety position for the Bears but another Veteran is still required to strengthen the back end.
Verdict - Good depth guy and spot starter, should get a new contract.
Thanks for reading and as before feel free to comment and let me know what you think.