INDIANAPOLIS—In the event you were counting on the Bears to get involved in the Alan Faneca sweepstakes, count them out.
As the Bears’ plan for free agency begins to unfold with the team ramping up efforts to use the $30 million in salary-cap room on its own players, it’s become evident they don’t have large dollars earmarked for players who will be in the marketplace that have come from other teams. So you can effectively cross Faneca, the perennial Pro Bowl guard from Pittsburgh, and San Diego running back Michael Turner off your wish list if they were on there.
``I haven’t heard any name attached to the Bears in free agency in three days down here,’’ said one prominent agent. ``There’s absolutely no buzz about them. They’re all about their own guys.’’
That plan could change if the Bears wind up losing out on linebacker Lance Briggs and wide receiver Bernard Berrian, but at that point the team would be getting in on the secondary phase of free agency.
*** Here is a name to keep an eye on—Matt Forte. The Bears are believed to have an interview set up with the Tulane running back this weekend and he could be on their radar. Forte rushed for 2,127 yards as a senior with 23 touchdowns.
*** Safety Brandon McGowan is expected to receive a one-year tender offer as a restricted free agent this week, as the Sun-Times has previously reported. Best guess is they tender him at the low level of $927,000. He was an undrafted free agent, so there is no draft pick compensation in the event another team would sign him away.
*** Wide receiver Rashied Davis is also expected to receiver a low tender as an RFA. It’s possible the club could look for a multi-year deal for one or both of these players, but the Bears might want to see McGowan prove he’s a little more durable before making such a commitment.
*** Offensive coordinator Ron Turner on Illinois running back Rashard Mendenhall, who he recruited to school:
``I liked then what I like now: his size, his speed, his instincts, his feel for the game. He’s a very good player. He was a great, great player in high school, as was his brother. We signed his brother a year before, Walter. Walter, we signed him on his own merit. He was a good player. And Rashard, was just outstanding. I think he was rated the second or third best back in the country coming out. He didn’t get a lot of publicity because he had committed to us so early. He committed before his time to sign.’’