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Bears free agency target: Malik Jackson

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The one all the Bears fans want.

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Arguably the biggest need for the Chicago Bears is a five technique defensive end for their 3-4 scheme.

Building their defense was never going to be a one-year undertaking but considering the state of the roster, Ryan Pace did an admirable job bringing in a number of players on one-year deals in order to field a 3-4.

That meant players like Jarvis Jenkins and Mitch Unrein were brought in as stop gaps while players like Will Sutton and Ego Ferguson moved to positions that they had never played before.

The Bears found an edge rusher in Pernell McPhee and got good production out of Lamarr Houston and Willie Young but they could use a better pass rusher with his hand in the ground.

Enter Malik Jackson.

Jackson, the 26-year-old former fifth round pick, just earned a Super Bowl ring with the Broncos and was drafted under Bears head coach John Fox's time in Denver.

Jackson, while not a prolific pass rusher (there can only be one JJ Watt), he has 14.5 sacks in the last three seasons.

Jackson is the 16th ranked free agent according to ProFootballFocus.com's new grading system with an 86.9 and he is the seventh best free agent according to SBNation.

The next logical question is, how much is Jackson going to cost?

Looking over DE contracts on Spotrac, the numbers seem to vary. It could be anywhere in the $9 million per year range to $11 or $12 million per year. The really high paid guys are the sack artists like Watt, Mario Williams and Robert Quinn.

Since Jackson doesn't have the number sack numbers, he wouldn't command that kind of salary. I'm thinking somewhere in the $9-$10 million per year.

The lingering question with Jackson is how much better can he get? Jackson has been a one year starter and while he played well and recorded 5.5 sacks, he also played next to Demarcus Ware and Von Miller, two of the very best pass rushers in the league. Can Jackson be as successful with slightly less talent around him?

Pernell McPhee was able to answer those questions and the Bears should theoretically add more talent around the guys they already have.

How hard should the Bears pursue Jackson?