Mario Williams. Vincent Jackson. Marques Colston. Those are the three big names in the free agency hunt for the Bears. Sure there are notable second-tier wideouts available (Manningham, Garcon, Meachem) and some excellent interior lineman looking for big pay days (Grubbs and Nicks), but the three guys listed first here are first in the hearts and minds of Bears' fans as we creep towards the opening of free agency. And that is where I, Debbie Downer, come in with a bucket of cold water and say, "can Emery really bring those guys to Chicago?". Jump with me for a dose of pessimistic reality with a hint of hope.
Let me clarify before you ramp up your disdain too much; I think we have a legitimate chance to obtain one of those three players. Each would be a
clear huge upgrade at the weakest area of either our offense or defense (although Colston's knee surgeries scare me despite barely missing any games). I imagine Phil Emery and company are doing due diligence on how each player (among many other free agents) would fit within the salary cap and on-field performance of our team.
But as the Mario Williams train to Chicago has gained passengers, the reality is only one team can sign him, and he's going to get a huge payday. I'll leave the cap numbers game to the WCG unofficial captologist IOftenPanic, but Super Mario should command an Albert Haynesworth-type deal and teams such as... heck, almost everyone wants this guy. He can play a 3-4 OLB or a 4-3 DE, and do either exceptionally well, meaning anyone with cap space and a defense in need of a pass rusher wants this guy badly. Its not unrealistic for the Bears to get him, but I feel like we're setting ourselves up for failure if/when he signs with somebody else. Its one thing to dream of a Mario-Julius bookend, but another to expect the front office to do it and get upset if/when it doesn't happen.
As for the wideouts, Jay wants a 6'2" receiver, Tice knows he needs one, and Emery has already talked about his desire to see big bodies join the Bears. But we'll be competing with a number of teams interested in both Jackson and Colston (Rams, Bucs, Chargers, Redskins, Patriots, Bills, Jags, etc). I like our chances compared to other teams because of our combination of cap space and the tiny gap we have between us and perennial playoff teams, but still, it seems like the expectation is Emery signs either Jackson or Colston. But what happens if its neither? Do you give him the "ole college try" missive or do post an "Angelo 2.0" article?
Look, I'm not trying to start the Emery bash campaign; but with three elite level free agents available, it seems like a lot of Bears' fans are painting themselves into a corner with "sign Jackson or Colston and Williams... boom, Super Bowl" talk when its going to be impressive if we can get one of those top guys. I'm sure we're going to be in the running for all three - at least with a cursory pursuit - but we may be setting ourselves and Emery up for failure if he misses on all three. Three guys, thirty-two teams, with any number of unknown player wants in terms of salary, teammates, locale, etc. The offseason winner is rarely the Super Bowl winner, and we need to see the full offseason scope of Phil Emery before decrying him capable of pulling off a Houdini-esque free agency bonanza.