Chicago Sun-Times

Final push made to keep Briggs, Berrian, Ayanbadejo

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The Bears are not going to give up on their own stars. Not without a final effort.

That became obvious Monday when it was discovered the release of three starters from last season and extension of defensive end Alex Brown was not the only business going on at Halas Hall. Along with dispatching right tackle Fred Miller, wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad and defensive tackle Darwin Walker, the Bears have made contract offers to linebacker Lance Briggs, wide receiver Bernard Berrian, defensive tackle Tommie Harris and special teamer Brendon Ayanbadejo.

Harris is signed through 2008. The others are set to become unrestricted free agents and general manager Jerry Angelo wants to start his free-agent shopping with his own. All four offers are under consideration, and all four players are represented by Miami-based power broker Drew Rosenhaus. If the Bears meet with success they could build some real momentum at the scouting combine in Indianapolis later this week, a place the organization looked so foolish last year.

The club was stumbling through efforts to reach agreement with coach Lovie Smith on a new contract during the combine last February when agent Frank Bauer ripped the team. There were other moves being made on the coaching staff, and the shaky beginning to an offseason coming off Super Bowl XLI proved to be an omen for a rocky season to come.

If Angelo manages to re-sign all four players—and a meeting is in the works at the combine with agent Eugene Parker about a new contract for quarterback Rex Grossman—many of the club’s offseason questions could be answered before free agency opens at 11 p.m. Feb. 28. It would also bring in to focus the draft, where the Bears are expected to choose an offensive tackle in the first two rounds.

Miller might have another season of decent football left in him after undergoing surgery on his right ankle. His agent Harold Lewis indicated he expects his client to receive serious looks in a thin market. The Bears had to get a young tackle, really something they probably should have done before this year, and Miller’s play had slipped at 34.

Muhammad also can remain productive but it’s questionable whether anyone will view him as a starter. He’s closing in on 10,000 yards for his career and can help a team needing a possession receiver. His departure probably has as much to do with the need for Devin Hester and Mark Bradley to blossom as anything. Muhammad was going to pocket $2.1 million this season, not an overwhelming figure.

``The Bears did this at a time which allows Moose to catch on with another team,’’ agent Joel Segal said. ``We appreciate that. Any time a guy who has had a prolific career like Moose gets released, it’s a surprise. But he’s still playing at a high level and he looks forward to his next opportunity.’’

By the end of the season, the Bears preferred Anthony Adams to Walker at defensive tackle. Adams suffered an arm injury, but should be healed during the offseason program and the real hope is Dusty Dvoracek will remain healthy. Look for the team to address defensive tackle, however, through free agency or the draft.

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Miller surely won´t be missed. I doubt he has anything left in his tank. He didn´t play decent last year and has been the weak link on that line for at least the last couple of years. It is sad the Bears lost a young tackle like LeVoir, who was on their practice squad and last season signed with the Rams. Hopefully the Bears can pick up a veteran to start at left tackle ,move Tait to the right side and at least draft one very good prospect.

I agree with Jan in moving Tait to the right side. He was underwhelming on the left. However, I don't think there is a good enough veteran out there to start at LT. I think that in the draft, there are at least a couple of prospects (Otah, Baker, etc.) that will be available at 14 in the draft and will be able to start their rookie season, even at a crucial position like LT.

I agree with both Jan,and Dan, in that the Bears should look at tackle in the draft, but I also feel we are weak at guard as well, and when you watch opposing defenses attack a teams offensive line, more times than not they are coming right up the middle of the field, which creates a you block our five pass rushers with your center and two guards scenario, and the defenses are winning this battle time and time again. I would also like to see the Bears examine the fullback position, with the Giants having a horse like Brandon Jacobs in their backfield, he is not only a punishing blocker, but a mismatch for opposing linebackers, and defensive backs. Go Bears!!

If the Bears canno't sign their own free agents, they should go out and try to sign Flozell Adams and Alan Fanneca. That would give them a good base to run the football again,and protect the QB.The Bears could land USC linebacker play maker Rivers,and maybe Joe Flacco orChad Henne for the future.Bear down Jerry Angelo!

I think the cuts today are a move in the right direction. There are a lot of holes to fill on offense and defense. It would be a good thing to get solid at safety. I would add a few pounds to D.Manning and move him to strong safety and let M. Brown play the middle of the field. I learned that teams who control the middle of the field on offense and defense win games.

It may be a crazy pick for QB, but I wish they would look at Dixon from Oregon. Agree on OT in the first round....kind of miss Columbo...

you bear fans are pretty stupid first of all jacobs is a halfback not fullback and did you really just figure that out if you control the middle of the field you win the game what did you have a team of monkeys working around the clock???? GO GIANTS!!!!

Jay? You keep coming to these blogs and "saying you stupid Bears fans etc. etc.". You're not Jay Cutler are you? I mean, that would be understandable them...

And Giant fans cant seem to figure out that jacobs at 260+ plays and is used more like a fullback than a halfback? is this rocket science?

i am glad to hear bears trying to get briggs, ayanbedejo back. hopefully this is not just a token effort.

sure berrian is the best wr left on the bears, but that means nothing; it is one of the weakest units anywhere in the nfl. how hard will it be to get a guy whose only real plus attribute is speed, who is not fast enough to be a real deep threat? if we cant get a real wr ala chad johnson or someone else via trade, then at least save contract space instead of overpaying a mediocre player.

of course this assumes that that they will USE that contract space on a guard, briggs, one of the wilsons at safety, one of the great DTs available.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on February 19, 2008 2:29 AM.

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