Potential Chicago Bears offseason moves in 2013
Too little, too late is all can be said about how the Chicago Bears ended the 2012 season at 10-6 and now the potential Chicago Bears offseason moves need to be assessed. What will the Chicago Bears do to get better in the 2013 season? The Bears obviously need to find another head coach after firing Lovie Smith, but after a replacement for Smith is found. The Bears will need to get better with their personnel. The first place to look to where they need to improve, is by examining the players that will be possibly be saying sayonara to the Chicago Bears in 2013. Each position losing players will be examined by their chances of returning in 2013 and what the Bears should do to replace them if they were to lose them.
Quarterbacks Jason Campbell and Josh McCown will become free agents in 2013. By all accounts, Jason Campbell was the worst backup quarterback for the Bears in 2012. He started 1 game to replace injured quarterback Jay Cutler and lost that game, barely throwing over 100 yards against the San Francisco 49ers. Does Campbell have the talent to be the backup for the Bears in 2013? It’s hard to say confidently, but he left no reason for the Bears to re-sign him another year with his production.
McCown is in the same boat as Campbell in being a throw away backup quarterback and they’re both interchangeable at the position. The Bears have to find a suitable backup to Cutler and fast. That games they lost against the Houston Texans when Cutler left the game early due to injury with Campbell coming in with a lackluster performance and the San Francisco game he started, could have made the difference in the Bears going to the Playoffs in 2012. The Bears are on the outside looking in and they either find a backup that can win in Cutler’s stead or they could go the youth route by drafting a quarterback to replace Cutler down the road. I prefer drafting a quarterback for the future, but if Campbell and McCown were gone next season, wouldn’t surprise anyone.
Running back Kahlil Bell becomes a free agent in 2013 and the Bears will most likely let him go to greener pastures. Bell showed flashes of brilliance in 2009 and 2011 as a replacement for Matt Forte, but the signing of Michael Bush in 2012 showed the coaching staff wasn’t confident in his ability as a backup going forward. Armando Allen will step into the 3rd roster spot on the depth chart with Bell signing on if he can show major improvements in the 2013 offseason. This isn’t to say Bell is a terrible player, but the NFL is always about what have you done for me lately and Bell hasn’t done much lately. However the Bears won’t draft a running back in the 2013 draft, unless the running back is viewed as a steal, because Matt Forte and Michael Bush are more than enough as a tandem for 2013 at least.
Guard Chris Spencer, tackle Patrick Mannelly and tackle Jonathan Scott will become free agents in 2013. Mannelly will most likely be gone in 2013, as the Bears scour the earth to find better pieces for their offensive line. Spencer should come back in 2012, but it’s all up to his price tag. However Jonathan Scott out of all 3 players listed should be re-signed the most, because of the stability he brought to the offensive line during the season. As a backup, Scott only registered 1 sack in 7 games. Scott still has juice left in his tank at 29 and should return next season to help fortify the depth issues on the offensive line.
You don’t normally complain about depth issues with the linebackers of the Chicago Bears, but Nick Roach and Brian Urlacher will become free agents in 2013. Urlacher would probably retire if the Bears don’t give him a contract extension and an Era in Chicago Bears history is goes with him. The Bears don’t have a backup plan for Urlacher’s departure, but that is just what happens when you try to replace a Hall of Fame caliber player. Nick Roach has always been one of those linebackers that flies around, but doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. However Roach might be re-signed because of his age at 27.
However there will be more than enough free agent linebackers hitting the market in 2013 and the number 1 linebacker to pick up is Oakland Raiders Philip Wheeler. One of the only bright spots on defense for the Raiders in 2012 was Wheeler and he would be an upgrade to Roach. Not to mention the linebackers in the 2013 draft. There may not be a replacement for Urlacher, but there definitely will be replacements for Nick Roach.
Israel Idonije, Nate Collins, Amobi Okoye, and Henry Melton will become free agents in 2013. Idonije has been with the Bears since 2004 and would be a shame to see him go, but his age at 32 is when defensive linemen begin to show wear and tear. There is no doubt his 7.5 sacks in 2012 and 20.5 over the last 3 seasons are not great statistics, but that might push the money he’s asking for as a backup a little too high for his return. Collins can be replaced on the waiver wire. The former 1st round draft pick Okoye will have to fight for a roster spot in 2013.
The only real fear is if the Bears lose Henry Melton. Melton who was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2012 with 6 sacks has really started to turn on over the last couple of seasons. His age isn’t suspect and already has a veteran presence on the defensive line that other players can feed off of. With the exception of Urlacher being debatable, Melton is the number 1 free agent the Bears have to re-sign to keep progress going forward. The line could use a few greenhorns for the veterans to school, but it will be pretty solid for 2013.
Zachary Bowman, D.J. Moore, Kelvin Haden, Troy Nolan and Anthony Walters become free agents in 2013. Haden and Moore are more likely to be re-signed with Bowman, Nolan and Walters only re-signed if they take chump change. The safety position of the Bears has been in arrested development with the recent 3rd round draft pick Brandon Hardin placed on I.R. with a neck injury sustained during preseason. The Bears also have one of the best cornerback tandems in the NFL with Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman, but at the same time, both will be in their 30’s by the end of 2013. It couldn’t hurt to draft a potential replacement for Tillman in the future, but for now the position is solid.
Everything coming back fill circle, the number 1 area that needs to be addressed in the 2013 offseason has to be the offensive line, linebackers and quarterbacks. In that order and it needs to be realized by Bear fans, that the Bears could have made the Playoffs if they had a capable quarterback. The Urlacher Era may very well come to a close, but you have to be excited that the Bears aren’t losing that many players to free agency. This is a team with a 10-6 record, that failed to make it to the Playoffs and the only thing the Bears can do now is move forward. To improve upon what has already been established and hopefully have another division title in 2013.
James Cobern is a Featured Journalist for TPF and can be contacted at JCobern@ThePenaltyFlagBlog.com.