Chicago Sun-Times

Bears strike in free agency signing OL Omiyale

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The Bears have made their first move toward filling some of the obvious holes on their roster by signing offensive lineman Frank Omiyale to a four-year contract.

Omiyale, who spent the last two seasons with the Carolina Panthers, has signed a deal worth between $11.5 million and $14 million, according to an NFL source.

He got his first real NFL action this past season when he filled in for Panthers left tackle Jordan Gross for the Oct. 5 game vs. Kansas City. Carolina won 34-0, piling up 205 yards rushing. Omiyale, 26, can play either tackle position and could probably move inside also. The 6-4, 310-pounder was originally a fifth-round pick by the Atlanta Falcons in 2005 out of Tennessee Tech. The Panthers claimed him off waivers in 2007 and he had been a backup there.

Omiyale's signing increases the odds that veteran John St. Clair, who turns 32 this summer, will not return. The Bears typically have players they want back under contract before free agency opens and instead of going with the familiar option who has started 19 consecutive games for them, they chose to look elsewhere first.

Omiyale's signing may give the club flexibility in the first two rounds of the draft where it is still expected it will at least consider an offensive tackle. Getting a lineman on board quickly was paramount. The Bears will run veteran minicamp starting March 16 and Chris Williams, the first-round pick from last year, was the only tackle under contract with NFL experience.

Ten-year veteran John Tait is still expected to retire, but there's been no official word about him filing paperwork.

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Now this is the kind of signing Jerry is going to make or break his future on. He signs a young player, who got caught in a money crunch in Carolina, and has some starting experience. He won't throw huge money at guys who may or may not solve the problem after getting burned by Muhammed, Griese, and seeing busts all over the league. He will make conservative decisions on guys who can help. Would we all have preferred a bank-able player like Gross? Certainly, but when he and Vernon Carey went off the market, the rest of the crop will get more money thrown at them than they deserve, and will be a lot like St. Clair, where they will not get better once they get into town. This is a player who I totally missed in my scanning of rosters, but he at least can serve as a serviceable swing guy, and possibly a right tackle.

St. Clair was a known entity, and what we know is that he isn't all that good. We would have to pay more for St. Clair than we paid for Omiyale, and probably gotten the same or less production. St. Clair did the best he could in 2008, and that quite frankly was not even mediocre. The sack numbers were a product of 3 step drops, and a focus on dump passes and check downs, not by any means because of his pass protection.

So now we have one tackle with starting experience on the roster (assuming Tait is done and doesn't change his mind). Williams is the "Future" at left tackle, and Balogh is a developmental guy who probably doesn't get the job at swing tackle. But at least one guy has a start, and at left tackle to boot....

I still think we need to look OL in round 1, unless we get lucky and a guy like Maclin is still there at 18. With Crabtree's injury, we could see the whole group of receivers drop because there won't be so much urgency to get the next best guy after Crabtree comes off the board early.

So not a bad start for Jerry, albeit a pretty safe start. I would like to watch the market on the rest of the remaining OL and see how it goes. Jason Brown would be an awfully nice addition for Guard and future center, which would justify the money we would have to spend to get him, but likely that is a pipe dream at best.

I need to watch that KC game and see how he did against Hali or whoever he blocked that day. He must have done something halfway decent...

11.5 to 14M for a guy who has started 1 game in his career? oy vey. so bears.

Not the name I was looking for but I hope he can hold down right tackle for a few years. Angelo needs to now get 2 O-lineman who can start in the next 2yrs out of this draft.

That's What I'm Talking About!!!!!!!!!!

Oh wait, we signed Housh right?

It's hard for a fan to judge an offensive lineman. All I can say is that it's a nice compromise between the desired plan of obtaining an all-star and relying on the draft. Considering the Bears other needs, surely a top tackle would cost too much. Omiyale sounds versatile and played with a decent offensive team, so he should be OK. However, I assume that tackle is still in the plan for the draft.

...and the Bears still don't have anyone with starting experience at either tackle experience.

How about Jon Stichcomb? How about Khalif Barnes? Why the dude nobody's heard of who's been let go by two teams? Is this really the best you can do Jerry?

If Jerry is going to stop trying to make the team better, I am going to stop renewing my season tickets. This is ridiculous.

relax, its 11.5-14M over 4 years. That means its under 4 Million a year for a professional linemen who is young in his career, has in game experience, and has been a solid backup for years. I'd take him. If it was 11 million for a season, it'd be a totally different ballpark.

Also, even if it is the 14M contract, some of that will be incentives which he won't earn unless he becomes a full time starter, and some of it will be on the back end, which we won't pay if we cut or trade him. In the end, it sounds like a good investment to me.

I agree that the Bears needed to strike fast but this player has started how many games in his career? 2
His start was against the Chiefs a not very good team, and his opponent was not considered that great as well that day, Tamba Hali,
I would much rather `throw money' at a proven player as opposed to getting a cheap unproven player at a high price and an unknown, we have that in Williams who I like but he is still an unknown.
as you said Joe a good start but if that is it, it's not that good

Not a lot of info but it says he did play in 10 games? If so then I guess the Panthers actually let their backups get some experience as opposed to the Bears sitting their backups all year
but if he played in 10 games then I am sure the Bears had some good film of him As a young swing player - right, a good investment but we do need more than that, it's early - lets wait a bit...weve waited how many years for an Offensive lineman a little more time and I will survive, maybe

as much as I want Housh, I doubt we get him - the Eagles and Giants both Super Bowl contenders are in the mix for him so why would he go to a subpar team? or stay with the Bengals either???
if it were me, I would go to McNabb and the Super Bowl as they were 1 game away last year.

It might not be a name any of us were thinking of, but at the very least, he's 26 years old. Even if we draft a tackle this year and this guy is his backup, we just got a whole lot younger on the O-line. Our geriatric line last year could barely move the pile on 3rd or 4th and 1 situations, and it was pretty embarassing.

I don't think this stops Angelo from signing St. Clair. It could simply be a way of pressuring St.C to compromise on price, if he truly wants to stay. If Angelo can secure both these guys, it creates competition...if the Bears spend a day#1 pick on an OL, so much the better (though honestly, a St. C. signing would allow Angelo to target a WR and DE on day#1...and that wouldn't be a bad thing either).

thanks brendan h. chill people its a person that can step in st. clair's place. we didnt over pay and its only been free agent "season" for what 9 hours?

This wasn't a bad signing, Frank Omiyale is young enough to be around for awhile. With the money Omiyale got, you can pencil him in at right tackle. Omiyale, unlike a draft pick, has NFL experience at tackle. This is the kind of signing I was hoping the Bears would do, this opens things up for the Bears on the first day of the draft. At 6-4 310lbs, Omiyale has nice size, and has only been in the league for 4 seasons so he's more than a stop gap, he could have a bright future with Chicago. Omiyale only has one start, but he also has 4 NFL training camps under his belt, doesn't sound like much, but I think he's more NFL ready to come in and start for Chicago at right tackle than a rookie would have been. I still look for the Bears to draft a tackle, probably on the second day. I've read there's a couple second day tackles they like. With Chris Williams at left tackle, Josh Beekman at left guard, and now Frank Omiyale at right tackle, the Bears line is getting younger, and hopefully more effective. It will take some time, but line coach Harry Hiestand should have these guys working together pretty well for the Bears GO BEARS!!

nice blog on Free Agent signings - did not see our guy - wonder why?

I like this move with Omiyale. He looks like he could be a solid lineman for, who also provides versatility with his ability to kick inside. You've got to like the fact that he played left tackle in the KC game. I think if you see Jerry go with a WR with our next free agent move then he will seriously look at taking a FS with our first pick in the draft.

You fans kill bitch because you say we're too tight and don't sign anybody and when we do you bitch some more.....Good job, Jerry...WR next,I hope...

As a Panthers fan who goes to school in Chicago and follows the Bulls...this kind of confuses me. He is NOT a right tackle, and when our right tackle went down and his backup had to play right guard, we had to move our left tackle over to the right side in the NO game, precisely because Omiyale could only play left. He's agile, and went against Julius Peppers in practice for a full season, which will make anyone better, but he's not a great run blocker. And a successful start against the Chiefs, who set an NFL record for fewest sacks in a season, is not much to be thrilled about.

Housh meeting in Seattle? wow I would think Philly, but it must be nice to be a FA and drive up the price....of all the rest of the FA WR

But can he play?....or are we just assuming with all of his years of experience...:)....that this guy can fit in and do the job?

This is why I said cut St. Clair loose. The dude IS St. Clair, but 6 years younger, a couple mil cheaper, and with upside.

They aren't through. Either draft or FA, no way JA goes into next season without somehow adding more competition at tackle.

Geeeeeeeeee....1 start in 4 years.
Yep...he qualifies to be our tackle. And we surely gave him enough money to keep the bench warm.

i've never heard of the guy and you figure the Panther's were too too high on him b/c they traded up to draft Otah last year. however, after seeing the ridiculous contracts to kick off free agency, it makes absolutely no sense to spend all your money on a mediocre free agent tackle.

I also think its safe to assume that the Bears have spent more than alittle time checking film on this guy or have some inside track to the way he plays. the consensus on this board is that St Clair was mediocre at best all year (and at RT its not like we were running over the opposition this season...remember, Forte was near the top of the league in carries and had a pedestrian YPA, a reflection on our OL), plus he's over 30. so again, it makes no sense to pay an arm and a leg for him. speculating on a guy that has been around the league is a better move than speculating on 7th round talent as we did in the draft last year. hopefully this guy works out.

if not, we're in the same boat as having re-signed St Clair, but at a significantly cheaper price. i'd expect to see similar 'value' signings at WR in the coming days...then to see us draft an OT at pick 18.

i love this time of year

Joe: good analysis.

I think this is a good move to add depth to the Bears offensive line. Even if Omiyale plays his way into a backup role, it gives the Bears an expensive insurance policy with a capable lineman that can play inside and out.

Well done Jerry. Seriously.

Now, I hear all this wide reciever talk about TJ and the draft. Really, are the Bears going to spend money or draft picks on a guy to play with Kyle Orton? That's ridiculous.

Kyle is a good manager, good field general, and that's it. He can't throw deep and he is not very accurate.

If Kyle is the guy, sure up the line and back talent and let him dink and dunk his way to the playoffs.

And Biggsey: I heard you say that Urlacher could not play safety becuase it requires larger "range". I don't know if you played the game, but, a Saftey with the entire field in front of him, running down hill, is far different than a mike dropping in coverage and running backward and sideways in cover-2 zones. COME ON!

I agree that the Bears brass would never do anything so risky as put Brian in the secondary. However, the question was legitimate. And I don't think the move would be so bad.

Urlacher could do it. I think he has faster game speed than Polimalu (I know that's spelled wrong).

Nice move!!..We filled a need with a younger player!!!..Keep it up, Jerry!!!

I agree that this was a decent move..he's young!!!.....Now if we can just get a new starting QB......ORTON SUCKS..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Same guy as St. Clair, but younger, cheaper, more versatile and with his best days ahead of him. Solid, not spectacular, move. And - most likely - a small part of a bigger plan.

link to The Sporting News site - and who they feel the Berars will target.
As far as Brian playing he did have trouble keeping up last year, that really sounds like a reach to me, maybe when he was younger but the guy is def. getting on in years, best not to move someone to a position that means more/faster running as they age.
I still think the Bears sign St. Clair - just not at what St. Clair is asking..

From the talk in Charlotte, this guy was heavily sought after. Quite a few of the Panther fans even expressed their disappointment in losing him and retaining Gross for such a high price tag. He's going to provide good youth and depth for a Bears O-line that is in desperate need of both.

I love the move.

Good signing, if he's signed as a backup or insurance policy.

Bad if he's your sure-fire starting RT for 4 yrs.

He came "cheap"? Translated: if he was any good he'd be offered twice what the Bears paid by someone else.

I hope the Bears strike lightning in a bottle but this is all we can ever hope for. Just one time, sign the sure thing

This is a good signing. It gives The Bears more flexibility in the draft. Omiyale may not be Jordan Gross, but he's better than anything we have. Maybe we can focus our big spending on Boldin or Housh now. Only a few more (7 or 8) more holes to fill!

note who did the TSN site I listed above....some weird guy..... :)

I like this signing. Young, cheap, big, will be around for awhile. Now if we still draft a tackle that would sure be sweet.


Jon- LT is the tougher of the two tackle positions, so I'm not real concerned about him not having experience at RT. It's the other way around that would worry me. Did you ever think that Fox and co. felt more comfortable with him at LT rather than someone else?

Great signing!!! Now we need to pick a linebacker in the 1st, then hope Pat White is still available in the 2nd...

`Yikes, without our depth we're in biiiig trouble. We're nothing without depth on the O-Line!'

Funny comment from the Panthers blog on losing their FA to the Bears lolol where have we all heard that line before..
Angelo should paste that one on his door.

Good signing. He replaces St. Clair as the swing tackle. He's younger and we got him for less than what St. Clair probably wants, since he sees himself as a starting LT. I think they'll still seriously look at RT in the 1st round, since there is a lot of quality there. OR could possibly nab a starter in FA still. Now someone like Bryant Johnson would also make me feel better about the offense.

Wow I see you guys never learn. Lets see this is a great signing because he is 27, and a 310 pound OT. Oh and he played LT against KC and has started 1 game. Thats right a big OT in the NFL, no one else has one like that. Started a whole game against none other than KC, who actually had the worst Pass rush in football. I think he is the next Jon Ogden, no one can stop him.

If you you have not figured it out yet, this kid is not a starter, he is insurace for Chris Williams. He is also not a RT because he is a weak run blocker. He is a back up LG/LT. Nothing wrong with that but if you are going to pencil him in as a starter at RT you will have problems. When Otah went down last year in week during the Saints game, they actually had to move Gross over to cover for him and let Omiyale play at LT, they did this because he is not a RT and struggles at that position

This signing tells me more about Chris Williams than it does about the RT position. Again he really struggles at RT according to Carolina. He is also a marginal LT, people go after Carolina O line cast off's because Carolina does a nice job with there line. But Carolina did not even attempt to sign him and they let go of all there backup's, which I find strange. I someplace that he gave up both Sacks in the loss to Carolina but I am not sure that is correct.

LOL @ some of the Bears homers praising this guy's signing .. like Omiyale being young means a darn thing when the guy isn't very good and has "experience" vs the Chief's horrid pass rush. Maybe Angelo should sign my 3 year old - he's even YOUNGER and has almost as much starting NFL experience!

You guys are the same ones who: LOVED Angelo when the Bears made it to the Super Bowl and ran up defensive stats vs some of the worst teams in the NFL for 2 years straight; thought Rex was a HOF and franchise QB, and praised the Bears for giving over-rated Urlacher the newest contract he has yet to live up to.

There's no stupider homers in the NFL than BEARS homers. No wonder you're the jokes of the NFL - you have the collective IQ of a garden pest.

By the way ... my team just won it's SIXTH Super Bowl ring.

Enjoy the mediocrity gang!

There's no stupider homers in the NFL than BEARS homers.

As a Bears fan, that one hurts but unfortunately rings all too true. As for Omiyale being Williams insurance, right on again, Creighton.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on February 27, 2009 7:11 AM.

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