With the two sides agreeing to extend the deadline for a new collective bargaining agreement until 11 p.m. tonight (Chicago time), there is a faint glimmer of hope that free agency could possibly begin sooner rather than later.
And, with the restructuring of Julius Peppers bonus money giving the Bears more room under whatever the salary cap is set at, they could be more active in free agency, although they won’t spend nearly as much money as they did last year on Peppers.
The offensive line has to come first and there are a lot more quality guards than tackles available. The Bears could use more quality and more depth at both positions, but tackles, especially those who can play on the left side are more difficult to find.
Bucs guard Davin Joseph and tackle Jeremy Trueblood are both five-year veterans who have been long-time starters. Both suffered through injury-plagued seasons in 2010 but could help the Bears, although Joseph is clearly the better player.
Marc Bulger is the kind of veteran quarterback offensive coordinator Mike Martz was looking for last year when he had to settle for Todd Collins, who won’t be back this year. Bulger played five seasons under Martz with the Rams and, at 33, he’s six years younger than Collins and would be an upgrade, as long as he’s still interested in playing, which was a bit of a question mark last year. But, like Collins, Bulger’s best days are about five years behind him.
The Chargers’ Malcom Floyd is exactly the kind of big (6-5, 225), big-play wideout who would complement the Bears’ other receivers. He has averaged over 17.0 yards per catch in each of the past three seasons.
Potential free agents who could help the Bears:
QB Marc Bulger, Ravens (10)
OT Rashad Butler, Texans (5)
OT Tyson Clabo, Falcons (6)
WR Malcom Floyd, Chargers (5)
DT Aubrayo Franklin, 49ers (8)
OG Robert Gallery, Raiders (6)
OG Richie Incognito, Dolphins (7)
WR Jacoby Jones, Texans (4)
OG Davin Joseph, Bucs (5)
OT Sean Locklear, Seahawks (7)
DT Brandon Mebane, Seahawks (5)
WR Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars (4)
OT Jeremy Trueblood, Bucs (5)
Note: Number in parentheses represents years on NFL service