One of these days we'll be able to complete a Four Down Territory a little earlier in the day. Until then, we'll have to accomplish what we can. Let's jump right in.
Q: I've seen published reports saying the Bears should make an offer to Oakland's franchised cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. What do you think of Kelvin Hayden as an alternative. He's local, from the same base defensive system and maybe cheaper?
Rob C., Parts Unknown
A: Now that the Raiders have taken care of finally announcing Tom Cable will be their coach for next season, or the beginning of next season any way, they can get down to the business of deciding what to do with their roster. Asomugha has made it known he doesn't want to play under the franchise tag again and is tired of the losing, but a player's wishes aren't always granted in these instances. Oakland has two players it badly wants to retain and will probably only keep one. Asomugha is the first. The second is perennial Pro Bowl punter Shane Lechler. They could place the franchise tag on him and spent significantly less than it would cost to lock down their lock down corner.
Asomugha will cost $11.718 million to tag, a 20 percent increase over the tag figure he played for this past season. Let's just say for the sake of this post that the Raiders elect to not tag Asomugha. He'll be in a position to potentially set the bar in free agency with a contract. You would have to think it would be a deal that would exceed the $57.14 million, six-year contract Asante Samuel landed from the Philadelphia Eagles last season. With the Bears heavily invested in Charles Tillman and Nathan Vasher already, I would say it's unlikely they would be willing to spend $10 million a year on Asomugha.
Turning to Hayden, the Hubbard product and former second-round pick from Illinois has turned into a top corner for Indianapolis. Hayden, who missed six games last season and battled knee and hamstring injuries, is the only starter on the Colts' defense who is not under contract for 2009. They're going to make him and center Jeff Saturday offseason priorities. Hayden, who had a 56-yard interception return for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLI against the Bears, would be a nice fit for a lot of teams. Given what the Bears have spent at the position over the last few years, I'd expect any additions to come via the draft.
Q: Why would Jerry Angelo come out in his first comments going into the offseason and make his main point of emphasis and primary focus the quarterback? There are no free-agent QBs who fit the Bears that are going to make a difference. Chris Simms, Byron Leftwich, Jeff Garcia? I don't think so. Also, at the Bears draft position, he is not going to get a Matthew Stafford or Mark Sanchez. And he is loathe to trade picks to move up in the draft and get an impact player. So he came out and made his primary focus the QB in a year when there is not a good solution available that fits the Bears and his draft tendencies. To me, the better statement would have been, ``We believe in Kyle [Orton] and we are going to get some playmakers for him to work with." It is clear that Kyle is your starting QB in 2009 anyway and then they need to make a decision on him longterm.
Scott, Sleepy Hollow, IL
A: That's a great question and it's one that Sun-Times colleague Mike Mulligan made a great point about. His take on Angelo's comments was to point out that it's not about the No. 1 wide receiver people have clamored for and it's not about the featured running back. If you go back through the transcript of what Angelo said, he never called it his No. 1 offseason priority. He did say he wanted to stabilize the position and he hopes that he can do so with Orton. I happen to be one who thinks Leftwich would be a pretty good fit for the Bears. I'm not sure that's going to happen. He's expected to draw pretty good interest on the open market and will be looking for a place to start. What you write makes a lot of sense but I'm not convinced the Bears see it as they have to go head over heels for playmakers. It wouldn't surprise me to see Angelo look for an offensive tackle in the first round. We'll see.
Q: What is the team's sentiment about John Tait going into his contract year? If they resign John St. Clair, who is the starter at right tackle figuring Chris Williams at left tackle and Josh Beekman at right guard?
Heron25, Parts Unknown
A: As far as I know, the Bears feel pretty good about Tait going into the final year of his contract. With Williams expected to take over at left tackle, as you wrote, I don't believe they want to make two changes on the line moving forward. Tait's been a god value for the Bears since they signed him in 2004 and although he's nearing the end of the line, he's still locked in at that spot. If St. Clair re-signs it will be as a swing tackle, the role he used to play, or perhaps to compete for a starting guard spot. I would expect Roberto Garza to maintain his job at right guard.
Q: It doesn't look like Rex Grossman will be playing for the Bears again even though some out there, myself included, believe he's the best quarterback for the team. Where do you think he could sign?
Jared, Ellettsville, Ind.
A: That's a good question. As weak as the crop of available quarterbacks is, Grossman will get a job somewhere. Before Jon Gruden got bounced out of Tampa Bay, the Bucs looked like a good spot to me. With Gruden out, I couldn't say. Minnesota? The New York Jets? There are plenty of teams that will be looking for No. 2 passers. Grossman is unlikely to step into a position where he can start right away so that makes choosing the right match important. A change of scenery can't hurt him, that's for sure.
Send in your questions and we'll go back to the mailbag on Thursday.