Marty Booker arrives in town Monday to take a physical and officially sign the $3.5 million, two-year contract he agreed to last week.
A little more than two weeks after general manager Jerry Angelo talked about the ``transition’’ the Bears offense is going through, we’ve got a better idea what’s going on.
They are hoping a short-term solution at quarterback—a competition between Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton—provides a longterm answer. They’ve added some bargain buys in Booker and Brandon Lloyd at wide receiver in a market that has seen huge money thrown at Bernard Berrian, who has yet to have a 1,000-yard season, and Javon Walker, who has been healthy once in the last three years. And the Bears have continued down the path of locking up their own, extending tight end Desmond Clark and laying the groundwork for extensions with kicker Robbie Gould, defensive tackle Tommie Harris and wide receiver Devin Hester.
The offensive line remains a group in need of retooling. The Bears can either choose between Terrence Metcalf, Josh Beekman or Anthony Oakley at left guard, or import some competition. They’re in need of a starter at right tackle, and those up in arms need to remember the draft doesn’t begin until April 26. That’s where the talent lies in this year’s class, at offensive tackle.
A question remaining unanswered is how will the club go about bringing in promised competition for running back Cedric Benson? There has been no movement on this front, and Julius Jones was taken off the market when he signed in Seattle on Friday. For all the chatter about Jones wanting to come to the Bears, he wasn’t an ideal fit for the system. Jones is undersized and carries the same rap that dogged his brother Thomas before he came to the Bears—can he be more durable? To Julius’ benefit, he wasn’t a first-round flameout in Arizona like Thomas.
But Jones would have been an instant upgrade over Benson, and you have to wonder how much Benson’s status as a former first-round pick adds to his shelf life here. Having restocked their depth at receiver after releasing Muhammad and losing Berrian in free agency, has running back now become a higher priority in the draft than finding a potential No. 1 receiver? Remember, the Bears’ motto is ``we get off the bus running.’’
Naperville North product Chris Brown remains available in free agency. He’s generated a little bit of interest, and the Bears took a look at him last summer. Can they afford to pass on a proven commodity again? You have to also consider what the arrival of a new back would mean for Garrett Wolfe, who the Bears reached for in the third round last April. Angelo’s history of patience and then some with draft picks makes a final outcome in a fluid situation difficult to project.
To review back to the combine:
``There are going to be more unknowns with this team certainly than there have been in the last few years,’’ Angelo said. ``But I’m not treating that as a negative. There’s going to be a transition here on our football team, particularly on offense. We foresaw that, but we’re comfortable with the plan we have in place.
“I don’t know if the right word is rebuilding because we like to think that the players that we have in there are going to be quality players. They might be new, but they’re going to have the traits that we look for. There’s going to be some growing pains. I don’t necessarily say it would be rebuilding.”
Transition? Overhaul? Rebuilding?
Whatever you want to call it, 10 days into free agency it remains a work in progress.