The Bears kicked off free agency in 2005 by signing wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad before the market opened.
The veteran had been released by the Carolina Panthers in a salary-cap move just before the end of the league year, and as a vested veteran he was free to negotiate before the free agency actually opened.
Marty Booker, the ex-Bear, is in a position to find himself a new home in advance of free agency, which will begin at 11:01 p.m. on Feb. 28. He can shop his services around before the bidding begins for players like Bernard Berrian. Booker is the last Bears receiver to go over 1,000 yards in a season. He is also the only Bears receiver since Dick Gordon in 1972 to go to the Pro Bowl, representing the Bears following the 2002 season.
Booker has made it known he would like to return. A look at possible suitors:
Bears: Depending on what the team has planned for Muhammad, they could use him. Berrian is expected to head elsewhere and Booker would bring some stability to a position in need of an upgrade. Otherwise, Jerry Angelo could be counting on a lot of production from Devin Hester, Mark Bradley and a draft pick, three unproven commodities.
Vikings: Personnel men Rick Spielman and George Paton were with the Dolphins when Miami traded for Booker, and the Bears when he was drafted from Northwest Louisiana. Sidney Rice came on in the second half of the season as a rookie, but Minnesota needs an upgrade and Booker would be a step up over another ex-Bear Bobby Wade.
Cowboys: Dallas views the recently re-signed Patrick Crayton as a No. 3 receiver and might be in the market for a No. 2 to line up across from Terrell Owens. Booker could replace Terry Glenn and serve as a drama-free partner to T.O.
Patriots: If New England doesn’t re-sign Randy Moss, the rich could look to get richer. The Patriots made a move for another former Dolphin in Wes Welker last offseason.
Titans: Tennessee is expected to look to re-sign another ex-Bear in Justin Gage but it needs to give quarterback Vince Young an upgrade overall at receiver.
Redskins: Aren’t all free agents linked to them at some point? Might as well start now.
Cardinals: Arizona offensive coordinator Todd Haley enjoyed a close relationship with Booker when he was the Bears receivers coach. If the Cardinals lose Bryant Johnson in free agency, as expected, they would like to add a complement to Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin but may need to allocate their resources elsewhere.