Chicago Sun-Times

Safety Phillips could be ready to walk plank out of Tampa Bay

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Indications are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will use their franchise tag on wide receiver Antonio Bryant unless they can reach an agreement with him before the 3 p.m. deadline Thursday for teams to use the tag.

That means safety Jermaine Phillips could be headed to the open market starting Feb. 27. Phillips is considered one of the top safeties but it's unknown if he will re-sign with the Buccaneers. He flourished the past few seasons under new head coach Raheem Norris, and the Bucs have a bounty of space available under the salary cap to make a deal. However, Tampa Bay used a second-round pick on Sabby Piscitelli in 2007, and the Bucs could be ready to slide him into a starting role.

Phillips played strong safety for the Bucs but looks to fit the mold of what the Bears need. He's a physical performer at 6-2, 220 pounds, and he has some cover skills. He's made nine interceptions over the last three seasons. But at what price would Phillips come? He turns 30 next month and the fifth-round pick from Georgia in 2002 has a lot of football under his belt. He missed five games last season with a broken left arm and eventually landed on injured reserve. He missed time in 2004 with a broken right arm.

At any rate, Phillips is one to keep an eye on as we move closer to free agency. The Bears have done a decent job of finding talent in the mid to late rounds of the draft at the position but would they want to plug a rookie in next to Kevin Payne? Lovie Smith certainly isn't afraid to go with young players.

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Another SS? He would be an upgrade over Payne, but I do not think Payne could flourish like he has if we put him at FS. He needs to be up closer to the line, and working in a controlled amount of space. Free safeties have to be able to function in a free roaming capacity. Cover 2 is relatively simple to manage, but when we go to man or Cover 3 or 4, which they do when we blitz, the free safety gets a WR, where the SS gets a TE or RB. Payne can't cover WRs, which is where we struggled when Mike Brown was slowing down. Neither of our safeties could cover a WR in space.

Phillips is a very good player, but if we were to sign him, we would be either relegating Payne to the bench, or moving him to a spot where he won't succeed, which is even worse...

Phillips wouldn't be so bad if we didn't already have 3 SS on the roster. Lovie says the 2 are interchangeable so maybe it will work. Either way this is a postion that I would like to see them address in the FA. That would open up other positions during the draft that we all talk about daily. RT, WR, SLB, and why not draft another FS, G, C and why not another OT.


Why not take a shot on him, better than a rookie. The only issue is, we got rid of Mike Brown for injuries (and partly his age) and we would be replacing him with a guy with injuries and who is getting up there in age.

I would like it, but with the way the Bears pinch pennies, I cannot see it happening.

hey brad. i posed a question to you about jermaine phillips and oj atogwe the day taylor mays decided to stay at USC. granted the bears need a FS more than a SS, but they'd be silly not to pursue phillips, even though payne is a SS it's a chance to truly challenge the ever popular lovie-ism of "our safeties are interchangeable" in the tampa 2.

That being said, if they do pursue Phillips, what cascading moves in the secondary to you see? Payne to FS? Manning to NB? Angelo tried to put Manning in as the FS, but he's still making the same mistakes now that he made as a rookie.

I'd love to see us add Phillips or Otogwe. If Phillips can run and cover at 220 lbs I'm all for it. I'd also like to see us add the bonified pass rusher we need so desperately...before the draft ideally. Could make for a very interesting draft if we could fill these 2 holes beforehand. Show us something Angelo.

I posed this question to Larry Mayer of about 3 weeks ago...

What do you think about the possibility of signing Jermaine Phillips at strong safety? Of all the players I’ve heard mentioned as possible free agents, his name has not come up He’s played in the cover 2 at Tampa Bay and seems like he’d be a good fit to replace Mike Brown in the Bears defensive scheme. Personally, I think he’d be a great fit!"

He chooses to answer some stupid question about coldest games or Terrel Owens chances of becoming a Bear and all that crap. Look who's laughing now Larry.

Jermaine Phillips would be an excellent addition to the Bears defense.

That's great and all, but the front 7 is the weakness, not the secondary. They MUST beef up the lines.

There are only 2 game changers available on the D-line in freee agency..... Haynesworth, and Peppers. To not get one of them is inexcusable for this franchise. No way they would ever lose money if they got good players.

The O-line needs obvious help now too. Tait is retiring. Period. St. Claire is a good back-up, not a good starter despite looking adequate (not to be confused with good) at times last year. They need to sign a tackle (Max Starks is a great mention Biggs), and probably draft one too.

If they get either Haynesworth or Peppers, and a good OT in free agency, then they will be in a good position in the draft to take the best player available (can you say James Laurenitis?) at the 18th pick.

Go Bears!!

Phillips is a good player, but I don't see how you can be a GM with Da Chicago Bears and have to buy somebody else's safety.

Miss draft on a QB, OK we will tolerate that. Maybe a wide receiver busts and we cut you some slack. However Mr. GM, if you can't draft a good safety in the mid rounds, the ghosts of Fencik and Plank, to name a few, may haunt you into another job.

Mama's milk says Da Bears raise their own at safety. I'm looking over my shoulder to even mention middle linebacker in this conversation.

MT Bears Fan: Larry Mayer always answers lame questions. He is also very vanilla with his answers and never ever says anything bad about some of the choices the GM has made. Better to get your info here.
Nice Job Brad.


Thanks for the shout out Brad. I check out your stuff daily and definitely appreciate the "outside the box" thinking. Signing off from Missoula, MT!!!

I think the defense is going to need a cornerback, more than a safety, because Lovie should be considering moving Tillman over to free safety anyways, he just doesn`t have the wheels to be a corner. The first pick in the draft has to be a pass rusher, if they can get a player that can actually put the quarterback on the ground, and not just touch him, then everyone on the defense gets better, immediately. The Bears should be addressing the offense through free agency, which would allow them to sign a reciever, and possibly a quarterback, providing it`s not Byron Leftwich, or Chris Simms, both of whom should either be out of the league, or scribbling on a clip board.

Pump the breaks Ryan with all the Haynesworth, Peppers, Gross talk. It is not going to happen. If you don't stop I will get Zack Randolph to punch you in the face. Best NBA moment in years.

Holly #### MS said something that was thought out and accurate.

Well with Phillips and payne you know the WR's running backs etc might think twice about going over the middle because they won't have any snot left in them after they get it all knocked out.

It may be time to pick PHillips up and then draft a young Free Safety to be developed? But my first option would be Tillman.

My first choice always has been Tillman at Free Safety (but is Vasher done?) if Vasher is good to go why not Tillman at Free Safety, he seems to be losing a step at corner as he was burned more than a few times this year. Graham seems to have great corner skills and can tackle and Vasher was a Pro Bowler CB. Payne at Strong Safety and Manning at Nickel and Kick returner.

I say whatever money the BEars spend for free agents, it has got to be at OLine first and foremost because you will not pick up all of the Bears O line needs in the draft this year. WR free agent (like the Oakland guy idea Curry would help) and why not give Leftwich a try at QB, he did well in spot relief in Pittsburgh and might get him and Curry at a decent price.

I want, I want, I want, I want.......

Saw a great bit on NFLNetwork about "tweeners" to linebacker, and vice-versa( we definetely know about that since we have the most successful one in Urlacher). They mentioned some kid outta Vandy who is tailor made for Cover 2...anybody have any thoughts? Please put aside your pro- Bears superbowl intentions before commenting,and be realistic.

This really sounds like a great idea to me.
Let's throw a bunch of money at this guy and see if he wants to be a Bear.

I like this idea a lot!!

bob k,
You'll get nothing and like it!!!

As for Jermaine Phillips am I in the minority in thinking that anything is an upgrade over Kevin Payne? I thought Brandon McGowan was better than Payne because he could actually wrap-up and make a tackle but both are liabilities in coverage. Though I'm not sure how much it will take to sign Phillips when FS should be the targeted position this offseason.

I still think Chicago should target their 1st pick on Mizzou's William Moore if Jeremy Maclin is off the board. If Maclin is there, then target Miss St's Derek Pegues in the 3rd round .... though some teams may reach on him just because of his return ability.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on February 18, 2009 10:56 AM.

Bears would "like to have Tait back for another season" was the previous entry in this blog.

Report: Peppers picks four teams for trade talks is the next entry in this blog.

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