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The Bears Den: March 11, 2014 - Chicago Bears free agency news & notes

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Dane hearts you too Craig, but will Steltz be back with the Bears for the 2014 season after filming the latest "Thor" movie?

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Bears release Michael Bush - Jeff Dickerson: Bush carried the ball a career-low 63 times and caught the ball just four times last season, despite eating up $3.55 million worth of cap space. Brad Biggs: Opportunity in the offense never really materialized.

Roster notes - Bob LeGere: Seahawks’ Bennett decides to stick with his NFL brothers; Bush, Rosario cut; Peppers figures to be cut unless he agrees to a large salary reduction.

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Bears miss out on Michael Bennett, turn attention elsewhere in free agency

Team Report - Adam Hoge: Adding Michael Bennett was a good idea, but expectations for him were already too high. Plus, the backup QB situation; salary cap and roster considerations.

Losing out on Bennett only minor setback - Michael C. Wright: Emery typically devises alternate strategies for adding the players he wants, so it’s likely Chicago will be active in free agency.

Losing out on Bennett not fatal for Bears - Brad Biggs: Emery can use the money saved to fill multiple needs, and maybe find the next Bennett. Moon Mullin: Bears not necessarily 'losers'.

'Plan B' strategy making sense for Bears in thin market - Moon Mullin: If they don’t outbid the rest of the NFL for someone, it does not follow that Phil Emery’s free agency strategy was a succession of misses.

5 defensive ends to keep an eye on - Adam Hoge: Michael Johnson leads the crop of DEs who[m - Den] the Bears will be monitoring — and perhaps chasing — on the free agent market. Ian Rapoport: Bears pushing hard for Lamarr Houston.

Bears DE quest turns to size matters - Moon Mullin: The D-line working model in vogue includes a base front four of one smaller edge rusher (255-270 pounds) and three "massives" with some pass rush ability but primarily run-proof.

Roster notes - Moon Mullin: Bears freeing up money with releases, shopping of Peppers; re-signings of Collins and Ratliff point in the general direction of the Bears targeting an edge rusher with the No. 14 pick of the draft.

[Video] - Will Bears bring back McCown? Adam L. Jahns shares his thoughts, along with the likelihood of re-signing Melton, Peppers' future, and Tillman's situation.

[Video] CSNChicago discussion - Bears trying to find a trade parter for Peppers. Could he stay in Chicago? [KAPCON: 5]

The fear in Bears free agency - Steve Rosenbloom: Will Emery become desperate and overpay for one player, leaving him to panhandle to fill everything else that stunk last season?

Bears nearing new deal with D.J. Williams - Dan Wiederer: 11-year veteran would be the frontrunner to start at MLB next season, though he would face competition from Jon Bostic.

Top free-agent roundup: NFC North - Rob Demovsky with a ranking of the top NFC North free agents. [Two Packers and a Lion ahead of the first Bear? Heresy! - Den]

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Josh McCown's big decision: stay or go?

McCown weighs pluses, minuses in free agency - Dan Wiederer: Will Josh McCown be lured elsewhere by an opportunity for more playing time and more money than the Bears can offer?

McCown looking for more than just money - Dan Wiederer: The Bears’ front office must sort through its own financial dynamics to determine just how much they’re willing to invest in a soon-to-be 35 backup QB. Matt Forte: #noneedtopaydaman?

Four teams interested in McCown - Jeff Dickerson: Josh McCown's representatives have held discussions with four teams in advance of the NFL’s free-agency period which opens at 3 p.m. CT on Tuesday.

[Audio] - Josh McCown dishes on his performance last season, the number of teams he has communicated with regarding his future, his relationship with Jay Cutler, Cutler's maturation and more.

[Audio] - Josh McCown joins Carmen & Jurko to discuss his impending free agency, the chances he returns to the Bears and more.

[Audio] - Josh McCown on SVP & Russillo to share his thoughts on what last season was like with the Bears, his approach to free agency and more.

[Video] ESPN - Josh McCown discusses his free-agency priorities.

[Video] ESPN - Adam Schefter discusses which teams are interested in Josh McCown and Michael Vick, and why the two QBs are in such high demand.

[Audio] - ESPN NFL analyst Damien Woody weighs in on Josh McCown's future, teams' approach to McCown, how circumstances in Chicago influenced McCown's performance this season and more.

[Video] CSNChicago discussion - Where will Josh McCown end up? [KAPCON: 5]

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Bearsss

Collins eager to rebound from injury - Larry Mayer: Back with the Bears after signing a one-year extension, DT Nate Collins is determined to pick up where he left off last season before suffering a torn ACL.

Jordan Palmer: Bears 'where I want to be' - Brad Biggs: Jordan Palmer doesn't know how things are going to play out between the Bears and McCown, but it was a no-brainer for the QB to return.

[Video] Inside the Bears - Anthony Adams sits with Charles Tillman to discuss the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

Draft party to be held at Soldier Field - Tickets to the Bears Miller Lite Draft Party presented by Chase May 9 at Soldier Field go on sale at 11 a.m. Tuesday on ChicagoBears.com.

Sun-Times Bears section here.

Check WCGer Sackman's selection of Bears-themed tops here, or some t-shirt designs here.

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Polish sausage

NFL free agency inspires caution among winning teams - Albert Breer: More and more teams -- particularly the elite ones -- are wising up to the fallacies of free agency.

Calculating 2014 NFL free agent target prices - Joel Corry with what the likes of Michael Johnson and Lamarr Houston would be expecting.

Draft preview: Five top underrated prospects - Greg Gabriel: NFL personnel are not ones to let the media and draftnics know what they really think. Look for these players to go higher than expected on draft weekend. [Two of them have been mocked to the Bears - Den]

Top 25 second and third round flops - Tony Villiotti: Just because they weren't in the top 32, doesn't mean they can't be called a bust. [Dan Bazuin & Michael Okwo - reprazent!]

Know thy enemy: Vikings - Ben Goessling: Vikings out of running for Michael Johnson after "things just didn't pan out between the two sides".

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