USA TODAY Sports
NFL Free Agency starts in less than a month, then the NFL Draft six weeks after that. Lots of questions are still up in the air for General Manager Phil Emery, including what to do with his ILB position.
Sometimes things make perfect sense...
Brian Urlacher, one of the greatest middle linebackers to ever play the game, is currently a free agent. Last season was the final year of a 5-year contract... a contract that paid him over $40 millon.
He'll be 35 years old in May, and his body is getting worn down. He's played the position as aggressively as any of his Chicago predecessors, including Dick Butkus, and knows that his career is winding down. But he also feels like there is a little bit left in the tank, and wants to give it another round in Chicago.
New head coach Marc Trestman spoke recently on Urlacher, but didn't get into specifics on the linebacker's future in a Bears uniform. He stated that Urlacher clearly loved Chicago, but that their conversation was primarily based around Trestman gaining intel on the Bears locker room and learning about the culture and personalities of the players.
He never mentioned Urlacher's future, and conspicuously avoided answering questions about that when asked.
So what makes sense?
Many mock drafts that suggest Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o gets drafted by Chicago. Despite the weird fake girlfriend drama in recent months, and Alabama's dominating victory over Notre Dame in the National Championship game, Te'o will be drafted in the 1st round this year, and will be a day-1 starter for someone at ILB when the regular season kicks off (barring any injuries, of course)... and the Chicago Bears might be the perfect fit.
Te'o has been lauded by scouts as being more than ready for the NFL, and many even see him as being part of the next generation of linebackers with his instincts and athletic ability. His only knock is his speed, but his ability at stuffing the run is second to none.
Unless you're in a Colts/ Andrew Luck situation, there's rarely that perfect match situation in the NFL. General Manager Phil Emery has a LOT to consider when he looks at this roster, and Marc Trestman is going to need a LOT of help getting his offense off the ground.
Former GM Jerry Angelo was able to pull off a huge trade for a franchise quarterback, something that was unheard of in recent decades in Chicago, but did very little to put supporting pieces in place to help make that QB successful. New GM Emery doesn't seem like the type to recruit an offensive-minded head coach, then ignore the personnel needs on the offensive side of the ball. Marc Trestman has said he was excited for the opportunity to surround Jay Cutler with pieces to help him succeed. So we will see.
Manti Te'o might seem like the perfect replacement for Brian Urlacher, and that might very well be an option come draft day. It makes all the sense in the world on paper. But nothing in the NFL is that simple, and we might end up seeing Urlacher being given another year to play in Chicago. One thing to watch for is the timing of everything... If Urlacher is re-signed in the next few weeks, you can bet that the Bears won't be looking at Te'o when April rolls around. But if he's not re-signed, you can probably start drawing some conclusions...
Sometimes, things make perfect sense. Then there's running an NFL team.