I've looked at free agent groups earlier this off season but as free agency gets closer and closer and it's never too soon to review the players that are available. The Bears have plenty of needs and potential targets, linebacker is certainly one of them.
The departure of Brian Urlacher would definitely hurt the team and Phil Emery would be wise to do his best to draft a MLB heir for the throne. In the meantime, they could hit the free agent market to find a veteran to fill in and help along a drafted player or even just fill in because it seems there is a split on whether or not Nick Roach could fill the need.
Of course the first order of business would be for Emery to decide if they will 1) want to bring Urlacher back and 2) will be able to bring him back (money, contract length, is Urlacher really wanting to return?).
If the answer is no to either one of those, then perhaps one of these guys will be worth a signing:
Philip Wheeler, Raiders - Wheeler is the highest rated available FA LB according to Pro-Football Focus who graded him out at +9.9. He played over 1,000 snaps and SBN points out that he had over 100 tackles and defended six passes, showing he is a three-down LB who can play the run and pass.
Brad Jones, Packers - Jones has been a role player for the Packers but last year when called into more duty he performed admirably, recording 77 tackles, four pass deflections and a forced fumble. Jones is only 26.
Leroy Hill, Seahawks - Hill had a disappointing year and was arrested last month for domestic violence, so he would come cheap. PFF graded him out at +4.7 and could be a perfect candidate for a short, one or two year deal to act as a stop gap between Urlacher and a drafted MLB "heir."
Daryl Smith, Jaguars - He played for Mel Tucker so Tucker would be comfortable and familiar with him. He battled an injury last season and only played in two games. However, before 2012 he was a very solid player for the Jags against both the run and pass. He could come cheap and would be another candidate for a stop-gap player.
So take a look at SBN's extensive list and see if there is a name you wouldn't mind seeing in navy and orange next season.