Whom should Phil Emery target in Free Agency?

Could B.J. Raji be a target of the Bears this off season? - Ronald Martinez

The Chicago Bears currently have 32 players under contract for the 2014 season, 12 of which play defense. All this talk of not having the personnel for this defense or for that defense is hogwash. The Bears have roster flexibility to do whatever they want. But whom should Phil Emery target?

According to Rotoworld, the Chicago Bears currently have 32 players under contract for the 2014 season. On the defensive side of the ball, they only have 12 players locked up. They have a handful of restricted and/or exclusive rights free agents on the team, and another group of youngsters that are signed to a reserve/future contract.

But the key numbers are: 32 total and 12 on defense.

Of those 12, whom are you confident in making the 53 man roster next year? Tim Jennings and Lance Briggs have played at a high level, and will be back. What about Stephen Paea, Isaiah Frey, and Jon Bostic? All are young players that have flashed some potential. Shea McClellin is about to go through a position change. Julius Peppers is a candidate to be a cap casualty.

I'd like to see David Bass and Khaseem Greene after some seasoning, but even those two are far from roster locks. Anyone else do it for you? Any other of the Bears' young and unproven players that you feel are slam dunks for the 2014 roster?

There's plenty of flexibility on the roster for Phil Emery to mold his defense into whatever the coaches want. Whether they stick with a Tampa 2, go with a 4-3 Under like the Seahawks run (which is still a 1 gap base 4-3 at its heart), play 2 gap D, mix in some 3-4/4-3 hybrid philosophies, or go full on 3-4, Phil Emery can do whatever he needs to do.

At some point the Bears will reveal their defensive plan, because free agency kicks off on March 11th, which is before the NFL Draft on May 8th.

Here's a complete run down on all the free agents in the NFL. You can sort by team, by position, by restricted, and also see whom NFL.com deems their Top 25. There's not one Bear free agent listed in their Top 25 by the way.

Bear fans are probably most interested in the defensive line and safety, so here's a list of those players from NFL.com.

Defensive ends

Jared Allen, Minnesota Vikings
Robert Ayers, Denver Broncos
Marcus Benard, Arizona Cardinals
Michael Bennett, Seattle Seahawks
Andre Carter, New England Patriots
Kenyon Coleman, New Orleans Saints
Keyunta Dawson, New Orleans Saints
Everson Griffen, Minnesota Vikings
Greg Hardy, Carolina Panthers
Lamarr Houston, Oakland Raiders
Jason Hunter, Oakland Raiders
Israel Idonije, Detroit Lions
Tyson Jackson, Kansas City Chiefs
Arthur Jones, Baltimore Ravens
Michael Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals
Brett Keisel, Pittsburgh Steelers
Ricardo Mathews, Indianapolis Colts
Jeremy Mincey, Denver Broncos
Mike Neal, Green Bay Packers
Frostee Rucker, Arizona Cardinals
Matt Shaughnessy, Arizona Cardinals
Lawrence Sidbury, Indianapolis Colts
Antonio Smith, Houston Texans
Anthony Spencer, Dallas Cowboys
Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Justin Tuck, New York Giants
Corey Wootton, Chicago Bears
C.J. Wilson, Green Bay Packers
Jarius Wynn, Dallas Cowboys
Willie Young, Detroit Lions

Defensive tackles

Jonathan Babineaux, Atlanta Falcons
Chris Baker, Seattle Seahawks
Alex Carrington, Buffalo Bills
Terrence Cody, Baltimore Ravens
Landon Cohen, Chicago Bears
Colin Cole, Carolina Panthers
Nate Collins, Chicago Bears
Brandon Deaderick, Jacksonville Jaguars
Leger Douzable, New York Jets
Fred Evans, Minnesota Vikings
Andre Fluellen, Detroit Lions
Aubrayo Franklin, Indianapolis Colts
Clifton Geathers, Philadelphia Eagles
Gary Gibson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jason Hatcher, Dallas Cowboys
Ziggy Hood, Pittsburgh Steelers
Peria Jerry, Atlanta Falcons
Antonio Johnson, Tennessee Titans
Johnny Jolly, Green Bay Packers
Linval Joseph, New York Giants
Kyle Love, Jacksonville Jaguars
Tony McDaniel, Seattle Seahawks
Clinton McDonald, Seattle Seahawks
Henry Melton, Chicago Bears
Earl Mitchell, Houston Texans
Fili Moala, Indianapolis Colts
Daniel Muir, Oakland Raiders
Mike Patterson, New York Giants
Corey Peters, Atlanta Falcons
Ryan Pickett, Green Bay Packers
Ropati Pitoitua, Tennessee Titans
B.J. Raji, Green Bay Packers
Jeremiah Ratliff, Chicago Bears
Shaun Rogers, New York Giants
Pat Sims, Oakland Raiders
Paul Soliai, Miami Dolphins
Randy Starks, Miami Dolphins
Cam Thomas, San Diego Chargers
Vance Walker, Oakland Raiders
Kevin Williams, Minnesota Vikings
Al Woods, Pittsburgh Steelers

Quite a few of these players are a bit too old, others are a bit too pricey, and a few others don't provide the type of scheme flexibility that Phil Emery looks for, but of these DEs and DTs, who catches your eye?

Safeties

Husain Abdullah, Kansas City Chiefs
Mike Adams, Denver Broncos
Nate Allen, Philadelphia Eagles
Colt Anderson, Philadelphia Eagles
Yeremiah Bell, Arizona Cardinals
Antoine Bethea, Indianapolis Colts
Sergio Brown, Indianapolis Colts
Stevie Brown, New York Giants
Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills
Ryan Clark, Pittsburgh Steelers
Chris Clemons, Miami Dolphins
Kurt Coleman, Philadelphia Eagles
Chris Crocker, Cincinnati Bengals
Quintin Demps, Kansas City Chiefs
Reed Doughty, Washington Redskins
Matt Giordano, St. Louis Rams
Jose Gumbs, Washington Redskins
Michael Huff, Denver Broncos
James Ihedigbo, Baltimore Ravens
Malcolm Jenkins, New Orleans Saints
Jim Leonhard, Buffalo Bills
Kendrick Lewis, Kansas City Chiefs
Chris Maragos, Seattle Seahawks
Taylor Mays, Cincinnati Bengals
Danny McCray, Dallas Cowboys
Brandon Meriweather, Washington Redskins
Quintin Mikell, Carolina Panthers
Jeromy Miles, Baltimore Ravens
Mike Mitchell, Carolina Panthers
Ryan Mundy, New York Giants
Bernard Pollard, Tennessee Titans
Ed Reed, New York Jets
Craig Steltz, Chicago Bears
Darian Stewart, St. Louis Rams
Darrell Stuckey, San Diego Chargers
T.J. Ward, Cleveland Browns
John Wendling, Detroit Lions
Donte Whitner, San Francisco 49ers
Charles Woodson, Oakland Raiders
Major Wright, Chicago Bears
Usama Young, Oakland Raiders

A number of these guys don't fit the bill of 'getting younger on the defensive side of the ball', as Emery mandated, but do any of these guys stand out to you?

Salary cap space is a fluctuating thing with the Bears, as there are a few guys they could trim. There are also a few contracts that could use a restructuring. If the Bears really wanted a guy, they could make it happen.

Until we start to see contracts offered, we won't know how the market will shape up. Last year it was tough for some players to get what they felt was market value, so a lot of guys signed for less years and dollars, just to get on a team. The Bears snagged a number of lower priced guys on one year, essentially "try out" deals, because of this.

D-Line and safety aren't the only defensive positions the Bears will need to address this off season. They are also thin at linebacker and corner. Then again, with so few defenders under contract, Phil Emery has his work cut out for him.

Whom would you like to see the Bears go after in free agency?

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