The Bears have lots of guys under contract for next year (I believe Jerry said 62, but they won't ALL be on the team come opening day). The Bears have lots of holes to fill. Where will their player changes occur? Brad Biggs highlights here that the Bears only have 4 unrestricted free agents.
...only special teamer Darrell McClover, defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, running back Adrian Peterson and linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa will be unrestricted free agents. [The CBA negotiations will determine whether] defensive end Mark Anderson, safety Josh Bullocks, nickel back Danieal Manning and linebacker Jamar Williams will be unrestricted.
My roster breakdown below:
100%, Absolutely on the Roster:
Quarterbacks (2): Jay Cutler, Caleb Hanie
Running Backs (1): Matt Forte
Wide Receivers (4): Devin Aromashodu, Johnny Knox, Devin Hester (trade bait? is he even tradeable?) Earl Bennett
Tight Ends (3): Greg Olsen, Desmond Clark, Kellen Davis
Offensive Linemen (4): Chris Williams (starting LT), Frank Omiyale (competition at RT or is he the LG?), Josh Beekman, Kevin Shaffer
Defensive Linemen (6): Alex Brown, Anthony Adams, Israel Idonije, Gaines Adams (he will be evaluated during OTAs, minicamps, & camp plus given every opportunity to succeed) Jarron Gilbert, Tommie Harris (he still has too much talent to cut; with no high draft picks, and bleak FA options, you have to keep talented defensive tackles)
Linebackers (4): Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Nick Roach, Tim Shaw (No way this guy isn't on the roster next year)
Cornerbacks (3): Charles Tillman, Zack Bowman, D.J. Moore
Safeties (1): Al Afalava
Special Teams (3): Robbie Gould, Brad Maynard, Pat Mannelly
* That's 31 guys.
75%+ Chance Still on the Roster:
Running Backs (1): Khalil Bell (Is he the complimentary guy? Bears hold his exclusive rights)
Wide Receiver (2): Rashied Davis (Emotional leader in locker room and great special teamer, veteran), Juaquin Iglesias (high draft pick).
Offensive Linemen (2): Olin Kreutz (Veteran, still shows flashes of greatness, will they actually cut the heart & soul even though Jerry and him do not get along?), Lance Louis (young lineman who showed promise)
Defensive Linemen (2): Henry Melton (forgot we "red-shirted" him, probably given 1 more season to make it), Marcus Harrison (he is young, cheap, and a defensive tackle; someone please stay on him to make sure he's in shape)
Linebackers (1): Hunter Hillenmeyer (veteran, stable presence, quality backup)
Cornerbacks (1): Corey Graham (cheap, capable backup corner or nickel)
* That's 9 more (40 total)
50% or Less Still on the Roster:
Jason McKie (never did much this season, but will probably keep a fullback anyway, isn't there someone better?)
Roberto Garza (if they can upgrade here in FA he's gone, if not, he's a veteran although rather non-descript)
Danieal Manning (depends on contract demands, but 1 heckuva return man, and knows nickel and safety spots)
Kevin Payne (has not stepped forward as a force, cheap though, knows both safety positions)
Craig Steltz (given starting spot, then lost it, then showed promise in final 2 games)
* 2 or 3 out of these 5 stick around (42 or 43 total)
25% or Less Still on the Roster:
Adrian Peterson (free agent, long time Bear, takes his role w/out complaint, STs his specialty, but replaceable)
Garrett Wolfe (special teamer, never found a role on offense, new OC might determine his future; lacerated kidney & now shoulder surgery)
Mark Anderson (what is he worth?, does he still have potential?, don't we have enough ends?, we gave up a 2nd for Gaines Adams, if Melton pans out or Gilbert is an end then he's not needed. If there ever was a end who should be converted to a 3-4 OLB, this is it. He should have been traded to a 3-4 team 2 years ago.)
Jamar Williams (is he really as good as the 1 game he shined?, showed brief flashes, restricted free agent-what's his market?)
Pisa Tinoisamoa (got hurt, what's his prognosis for recovery?, too expensive?, isn't Roach just as good?)
Josh Bullocks (didn't play much until the end, but how many safeties do they keep from a position that did not perform well this year? If Payne and Steltz are both purged, then maybe Bullocks sticks around)
* 1 or 2 out of these 6 stick (43-45 total)
ZERO% Chance Still on the Roster:
Orlando Pace (really bad, they can't possibly bring him back)
Matt Toeaina (numbers glut at d-line)
Nate Vasher (really overpaid, never got back to pre-injury performance levels)
Dusty Dvoracek (always hurt)
Darrell McClover (Tim Shaw has replaced you)
Kevin Jones (hasn't done anything in 2 seasons, just keeps getting hurt)
Adewale Ogunleye (you played hard, but just didn't get to the quarterback enough to justify your contract)
Any other guys I missed are probably inconsequential (Woodny Turenne, James Marten, Brett Basanez). They may be back for camp, but probably won't factor in the final 53.
That list leaves 8-10 guys the Bears need to fill their roster (not including the practice squad).
Bears will probably draft another lower round safety, a mid-round defensive tackle & cornerback, and a low round project on the offensive line. They'll draft a RB somewhere. Will they draft a top 5 guard in the 3rd round? *crosses fingers*
The Bears must find a free agent Guard or Right Tackle or both if Kreutz is let go. They really need to find a free agent stud safety. An impact end or tackle for the defensive line would be nice. However, I don't see the Bears' brain trust investing more money there, and those guys just don't hit unrestricted free agency that often. The good ones get tagged and we don't have the draft picks to obtain one. Unless a true number 1 receiver falls in their laps, I think the Bears will go into next season pretty much status quo at that position. I think Wolfe is let go and either they draft a RB or pick up someone in FA. (I'd like to get Sproles, but I guess we'll have to see what kind of offense the new OC brings with him.)
I figure the Bears will end up with 4 to 5 free agents and 4 to 5 draft picks on the team come September. That might not seem like enough turnover for a 7-9 team, but Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith are still in charge. Jerry likes his nucleus, so you probably won't see a major purge of current players.