Kreutz high on bears free agent list
Kreutz high on Bears’ free agent wish list By Bob LeGere
Like he does every off-season, Bears general manager Jerry Angelo has a plan in mind of utilizing free agency and the draft to improve the team before training camp comes around next summer.
But with free agency hinging on a new collective bargaining agreement that expires on March 4, there’s a good chance it won’t start on time — or anytime soon — if there is a lockout.
Whenever free agency happens, the Bears will not duplicate the spending spree of last season that brought Julius Peppers, Chester Taylor and Brandon Manumaleuna. Angelo said he recognizes there is room for improvement.
“I’m not sitting here saying that we can’t get better,” the G.M. said. “We can get better, and we will get better. We’ve got a full complement of draft picks. I feel we’re going to do business as usual. We’ll have a plan for free agency, and I’m sure we will be able to get a few players in free agency. We’ll want to bring some of our own back, and I’m confident we will be able to do that.”
The Bears do not have a strong history of getting immediate contributions from their draft choices, so any quick fixes would probably have to come via free agency.
But keeping their own free agents might be just as important.
Just imagine how bad the Bears’ offensive line would have been last year without Olin Kreutz’s leadership and experience in the middle.
So, even though he’ll be 34 before training camp starts — whenever that might be — and has 13 years of wear and tear, the Bears need him back for at least one more year to help guide a group in transition. With no heir apparent waiting in the wings at Halas Hall, that make Kreutz indispensable.
Defensively, there are three starters who will be unrestricted free agents: nose tackle Anthony Adams, linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa and safety Danieal Manning. Adams was the most productive this season, starting all 16 games and leading the interior linemen in tackles with 36.
Tinoisamoa, an eight-year veteran, missed 14 games in 2009 and four this season plus parts of a couple others with knee problems. He’ll be 30 before training camp starts. Nick Roach, a four-year veteran who may or may not be unrestricted, depending on the language in a new CBA, has played well in place of Tinoisamoa in the past and might be a better way to go.
Manning started 16 games and has been a full-time starter in four of his five seasons, but it seems like the Bears are always looking for an upgrade. Still, Manning is valuable on special teams as a kickoff returner and has played both safety spots and nickel back. But with last year’s third-round draft pick, Major Wright, waiting in the wings, the Bears won’t set the market for Manning by offering him a big deal.
Among the other free agents who played with the Bears, Corey Graham and Rashied Davis are most valuable for their versatility and special teams contributions
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