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The Bears Den: March 14, 2013 - Offseason news and notes

Matt Toeaina, after hearing Kellen Davis received nearly $66k in performance-based bonus pay.

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Leon Halip

Free-agent signees should provide immediate upgrade - Larry Mayer: The Bears on Wednesday officially introduced free-agent acquisitions Martellus Bennett and Jermon Bushrod, two new starters who should immediately improve the team's offense.

Kevvybaby: Bennett and Bushrod Introductory Press Conference

Bears rebuilding only on the surface - David Haugh: Underneath, with key free-agent signings, Phil Emery is assembling a foundation capable of winning now.

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Martellus Bennett

Martellus Bennett drawn to Bears by Brandon Marshall - Michael C. Wright: During his introductory news conference Bennett called Marshall "a mentor" and expressed excitement about the prospect of playing with the receiver, whom he often refers to as a big brother.

Roster notes - Brad Biggs: The four-year contract for Martellus Bennett has a total value of $20.4 million and $9.215 million is fully guaranteed after the third day of the league year in 2014.

Emery sees big upsides in Bushrod, Bennett - Brad Biggs: The middle of March has become something of a time to celebrate for Jay Cutler. Phil Emery and the Bears are hoping they soon will have something to rejoice about in January and February.

Bennett believes he's the complete package - Brad Biggs: TE takes pride that he can't be labeled as a blocker or receiver at a position where such versatility is becoming rare. Kellen Davis: "That's easy, people couldn't label me as either all last season, too."

Durkin’s Playbook - Dan Durkin: With Martellus Bennett being a three-down TE who doesn’t need to be subbed out, you give the defense less to key on, and can scheme advantageous matchups against LBs over the middle of the field.

Kevin Hasselhoff: Bears sign Martellus Bennett


Jermon Bushrod

Bears bucked several trends by signing Pro Bowl LT Jermon Bushrod - Dan Pompei: The Bears, who own the 20th pick, never would have gotten a sniff at Joeckel, Fisher or Johnson. So when Jermon Bushrod falls from the sky in March, and your starting LT gave up nine sacks and committed eight penalties last year, you pounce.

Bears strengthen two OT positions with one signing - Moon Mullin: With Bushrod at LT, the Bears ostensibly have established a solid depth core at the edges of their line.

For Bears, ex-Saint Jermon Bushrod’s ring has immeasurable value - “We had a good team (in New Orleans). We had a good locker room. And that’s important to me going forward, and that’s why I felt this place was a great fit.”

Jermon Bushrod: Upgrade or Side Step? - PFF weighs in on the decision to sign Jermon Bushrod as a replacement for J'Marcus Webb - is it a coup or have the Bears been duped? Dan Pompei: Emery doesn’t mind forming his own opinions.

Dean Spackleburger: Bears sign Jermon Bushrod


Further analysis & roster news

Bears address top needs with two 'draft' pickups - Moon Mullin: The two positions most frequently projected for the top Bears picks were OL and TE. Done.

[Video] CSNChicago discussion - SportsTalk Live talks the Bears' new additions.

Bears unlikely to make another major free agency splash - Moon Mullin: “We are up against the salary cap,” Phil Emery said on Tuesday. “So we are going to have to be slow and methodical,” referring to a likely “spread of signings” and “bits rather than batches.”

GM: Not much wiggle room now with cap - Michael C. Wright: With several of its own players on the market, Chicago faces a difficult process in trying to bring back any of them, let alone FAs from outside the organization.

Roster news - Moon Mullin: Roster tweaks accelerating with Davis, Spaeth, Toeaina trims. Vaughn McClure: Rodriguez to be the backup pass-catching TE?

The Kevinator: Bears cut Davis / Spaeth / Toeaina

Signings give Bears some draft flexibility - Michael C. Wright: The Bears can now possibly trade back, gain a pick, and still be able to upgrade at other need positions. Dan Pompei: Bears "open for business".

Webb shifting to RT after Bushrod signing - Jeff Dickerson: Webb, who started 12 games at right tackle his rookie year for the Bears, is expected to be in competition with Gabe Carimi and/or unrestricted free agent Jonathan Scott, whom the Bears will attempt to re-sign.

Webb ranks as Bears' leader in performance-based pay - Brad Biggs: J'Marcus Webb led the team in performance-based pay for the 2012 season, earning more than half of his base salary for the year. Kellen Davis earned a bonus of $65,825 in performanced-based pay. (Insert punchline here.)



Cutler ready to play out contract - QB tells Waddle & Silvy it appears he won't reach an agreement with the team on a contract extension, and the 2013 season will mark the final year of his current deal. Snippets.

Cutler lauds Bears for landing free agents - Larry Mayer: Jay Cutler was thrilled that the Bears bolstered their offense by adding Jermon Bushrod and Martellus Bennett on the first day of free agency.

Emery gives Cutler more Bears toys and fewer excuses - Steve Rosenbloom: Good thing that Jay Cutler isn't one to make excuses because the Bears have upgraded the roster to eliminate most of them.

The pieces are in place — now win, Jay - Rick Morrissey: Cutler should be particularly tickled about getting a new LT. It can’t be fun to stand in the pocket and have the distinct impression, based on history and open wounds, that a frothing D-lineman is about to separate you from your head.

No excuses for Cutler - Dan Bernstein: All anybody wants is for this to finally, blessedly work after three coordinators, three QB-coach stooges, innumerable line combinations, too many sacks, pressures, dropped passes, missed blocks, and interceptions.

"LSU Unicorn": Will Jay Cutler ever be a top-tier NFL quarterback?


Bears FAs

Trestman: Urlacher ‘a very, very capable player’ - Adam L. Jahns: Phil Emery said Wednesday that talks are “ongoing” with some of their unrestricted free agents -- notably Brian Urlacher -- but admitted that right now his team is “tight against the [salary] cap.”

[Video] CSNChicago discussion - Is it the end of the road for Urlacher?

Why it's OK Urlacher's a Free Agent - Maggie Hendricks: For the first time since the turn of the century, the longtime heart of the Bears' defense doesn't have a contract with Chicago. And that's OK.

Urlacher talking with NFC North rival Vikings - Mike Mulligan: A Vikings source confirmed talks with Urlacher's camp, but said the team was "monitoring" the situation and still believed Urlacher eventually would remain with the Bears. Tom Pelissero: Hard to imagine the Vikings will solidify their MLB vacancy by signing a declining player.

Dane Danesson: Vikings interested in Urlacher

Free agent Lance Louis making visit - Brad Biggs: Louis is making a free-agent visit to an unidentified club beginning Wednesday night, meaning he’s got serious interest on the open market from at least one team.


Polish sausage

Know thy enemy: Lions - Kevin Seifert: Opponents did not respect the Lions' run game in 2012, resulting in their facing six-man boxes the most of any NFL team - something that new free agent signing Reggie Bush described as "a running back's dream".

One year on... - Pete Dixon signed off on the Den for the last time a year ago today. Also, we'd just traded for Brandon Marshall.

Zucchero's Senza Una Donna is one of the few modern Italian songs to have had any impact on the international stage.