The NFL draft is still a ways away but free agency is just around the corner; in fact, it opens a week from Tuesday.
I firmly believe that the Bears' draft targets will have much more clarity once the dust settles from free agency. Personally, I think that the Bears will ultimately decide between a pass rushing OLB with their draft pick or a big, line stuffing DT.
The top two DT prospects, USC's Leonard Williams and Washington's Danny Shelton, are getting huge publicity post-Combine. Williams has long been getting top-5 status in early mock drafts, but now Shelton is working his way up into the top ten and even the top five in some mocks.
I believe that the Bears will heavily consider taking a DT if they believe he's the right guy. There is no reason for the Bears to pass on a player that could be the next Ndamukong Suh or Haloti Ngata for the third or fourth best pass-rushing OLB/DE.
With that in mind, the Bears could shore up their pass rushers in free agency to give themselves more flexibility in the draft.
Enter Baltimore Ravens pass-rusher Pernell McPhee.
McPhee, like previous free agent target Brandon Graham, doesn't have a ton of starting experience; he's only started six games in his four seasons.
McPhee, listed on various sites as an OLB/DE and, in 2012 on pro-football-reference.com as a DT. The 26-year-old is 6'3" and 280 lbs, giving good size. He has 17 career sacks, 7.5 of which came last year. He's appeared in 60 games in his career.
Will need a creative coordinator to get the best out of him, but his ability to win from various techniques is invaluable. Can he handle a full-time workload?
A creative defensive coordinator is exactly what the Bears have in Vic Fangio. If McPhee can win from a two and a three technique position it would give the Bears even greater flexibility between their three and four man fronts, since it's known that they will be going between the two depending on down and distance.
Over on our sister site, Baltimore Beatdown, they report that McPhee, while he's been valuable, is seeking too big a contract for the team:
Wilson reports McPhee is looking at a deal that will give him $8 million to $10 million per season.
McPhee, a fifth-round pick out of Mississippi State in 2011, totaled 7.5 sacks as someone that was moved around a lot throughout the front seven.
The Bears could afford that contract if the numbers are right and if they really believe he can be a player that can be on the field for three downs. He could be had cheaper too, because what a player wants and what he ultimately gets are two completely different things.
Could McPhee be a player who could have an impact for Chicago, or are his contract hopes too high and too much for a team with so much money already tied up in defensive line?