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Chicago Bears 2011 Free Agency: Corey Graham

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Special Teams. The name itself denotes that they're, well, different. Unique. As the Chicago Bears have shown, special teams can be something that pushes a team from 'solid' to 'really, really solid.'

Nobody on the Chicago Bears special teams unit stood out this season more than Corey Graham. The Bears would do well to keep him around.

But how, you might ask, did he stand out on a team that has Devin Hester? Well, quite simply, fans expect, nay, demand that level of play from Hester. Corey Graham, on the other hand, is low on the depth chart at defensive back, but has found what may be a niche as a gunner on punt coverage, and in kickoff coverage as well.

Don't just take our word for it. Here's what Brad Biggs had to say on the subject:

The Bears will spend the next month evaluating the roster and mapping out an offseason plan, but surely when they're done a decision will be made to try to retain Graham, a reserve cornerback.

Seems to have a natural knack for the punt coverage gunner role.
-Quick, plays smart on special teams.
-Continued potential at cornerback position.
-Led team in Special Teams tackles with 25, all solo.

Suffers from a small amount of DMS
-Is looking to see more defensive snaps, something the Bears can't promise right now.
-Made over $1M last year, will reasonably command a larger salary than that due to his outs

If that weren't enough, we thought we'd ask John 'Moon' Mullin what his take was on standout special teamer.  Here is what Moon told WCG:

Graham’s star at one point was clearly on the rise, with 9 starts in 2008. But he fell from grace with the defensive staff and started just one game over the past two seasons and was unable to beat out D.J. Moore for the nickel cornerback job. To his credit Graham has made himself into a linchpin on special teams, leading the team with 25 solo tackles last season and more than 20 stops in three of his four NFL seasons. Looking ahead: Graham likely will look to go somewhere he can get a better shot at playing cornerback and the Bears through this decade have been willing to let special teamers go rather than get into bidding contests.

Indeed, it would be wise of the Bears to make the move to retain Graham. He's familiar with the defensive system, if need be, and shines his star brightly on special teams. Will financial considerations be a reason he doesn't return? Or will he choose to leave of his own accord? There are a lot of teams out there, and everyone is always looking for cornerback help. The Bears should step up and get this one done, but only for the right price.

Here's the post that started it all. The Expiring Contracts of the Chicago Bears.

View our other articles regarding 2011 Free Agency here.