Chicago Sun-Times

Shopping his wares: St. Clair expects to enter free agency

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At this point, John St. Clair figures he's headed out into the open market.

Free agency begins in two weeks, on Feb. 27, and the veteran offensive tackle has yet to hear from the Bears.

"I feel I have no choice,'' St. Clair said. "If you haven't heard anything, of course you're going to the market. I haven't heard anything as of yet. I'm just down here [in Florida] enjoying my time off.''

The quiet front doesn't mean the Bears have ruled St. Clair, who started 16 games at left tackle last season, out of their plans. The organization has been going through meetings to plot the offseason plan and teams retain exclusive negotiating rights with their own players up until free agency opens. A lot of times business gets started and completed at the combine, which opens Thursday in Indianapolis. The Bears finalized a deal for quarterback Rex Grossman in Indianapolis last year before he entered free agency and also crafted extensions for quarterback Kyle Orton and tight end Desmond Clark.

While the spotlight at the combine is on the draft-eligible players, it's the place where free-agent contracts are hatched. Veteran agents will call teams and ask if they're interested in meeting. If the agent represents a player entering free agency that the club wants to see in its uniform, the parties will meet up. Never does more business get done in the hotel rooms of downtown Indianapolis.

St. Clair, 31, has been a valuable member of the line since signing in 2005. He's the most versatile linemen the club has had in the Jerry Angelo era, starting at both tackle positions and left guard. He was being paid as a swing tackle but has started the last 19 games for the club and is seeking a starting job. His first choice is to get that opportunity with the Bears but he's also looking for longterm security. First-round pick Chris Williams will be handed the left tackle job and the only way St. Clair would get a starting chance with the team is if the left guard spot manned by Josh Beekman, a former fourth-round pick, is opened up.

"I want to be a starter, definitely,'' St. Clair said. "They know how I feel. I don't know what's going on. I'm laid back. I'm playing it by ear and letting my agent handle it. He knows what I want."

One way or another, the Bears need to acquire a swing tackle. If they don't bring back St. Clair, it's a sign they could be looking at a tackle early in the draft. That could be part of the plan any way with John Tait entering the final year of his contract.

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15 Comments

While I appreciate what St. Clair has done, he is nothing to write home about. We need to stop keeping stopgap players around, and start developing someone that will actually be a long term solution at a position. This has been most notable on the offensive line. Garza, St. Clair, Ruben Brown, Aaron Gibson, and the list goes on and on....

I say we let him walk. We need to give Chris Williams a chance to be the guy on the left, and we aren't making any steps forward if we mark St. Clair for Tait's spot on the right.

If we want to sign a swing tackle and not draft someone, here's a name: Jon Stinchcomb. He is younger, more athletic, and still has some significant upside on the right. He can also play left tackle for a game or two if needed for injury.

It's time for these stand-in players to go find somewhere else to stand. The failures of this coaching staff to develop any young talent at a myriad of positions has to stop. Either they earn their reputation as a teaching staff, or we scrap the draft and just work like the Redskins, and bring in all our players by trade or free agency....The great teams fill in individual spots with free agents or trades, and build through the draft. We do that everywhere but on the offensive line, arguably the most important unit on the team. If we did nothing but draft OL in our first 4 picks this year, it wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. We need a future replacement for Kreutz, a new right tackle, and at least one guard. Beekman could be one of those guys, and maybe Buenning is another (the two guards for 2009, and Beekman takes over at center in 2010 if Kreutz hangs it up), but is anyone comfortable with Garza, Metcalf, Tyler Reed, and Balogh as our depth chart? Considering our recent injury history, that is not a safe bet.

Let the old geezer go!!!!!....We need to get younger...draft a tackle and let him compete with Tate..Use that Dan Buenning dude at one guard along with Beekman, with that our line is set until Olin retires...We need a QB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is a case of accommodating opposing needs. The Bears need a swing tackle. St. Clair wants to start. The Bears have pencilled in Williams at one tackle, Tait at the other. So, unless they are willing to give St. Clair Beekman's spot, it probably won't happen this year unless someone gets hurt. So St. Clair will test the water. But I don't think he will strike it rich. He's not a Pro Bowler. Selfishly, I'd like to see him stick around. Next year he can have Tait's spot and this year we could use the pick on something else. But hey, I can't begrudge him his shot.

I believe I read that St. Clair ranked near the bottom of left tackles last year; if he thinks that's going to get him a starting gig somewhere, then let him go find the team that embraces mediocrity and sign with them.

He is what he is, a solid swing tackle and emergency fill-in. I don't think he'd excel at guard as he's not the road-grader type that most teams (and the Bears especially) need at that position.

What would be the odds of us signing Tory Holt like some are speculating?

I agree that St. Claire is no starting tackle, but he is a decent back-up. The Bears should consider him as filler and nothing more. We should explore another avenue via free agent acquisition or the draft.

Of more concern to me is the organizations inability to acknowledge the obvious. It's been apparent for some time now that Olin Kreutz is well past his peak. he repeatedly shows his inability to get off the ball quickly and with any real leverage. I personally have seen him repeatedly get man-handled at the point of attack and asking him to pull is a joke.

Josh Beekman should be groomed immediately for the position and if he isn't the man to handle it, he can leave too, via trade or release. Garza is even worse (does anyone recall seeing the Panther's Chris Harris de-cleat him!) With interior lineman being dominated, how can ANYONE cry about their inability to run the rock. Forte can only run when there's somewhere to run and you cant be successful when the games being played BEHIND the line of scrimmage and not down the field as most SUCESSFUL clubs have shown!

In a nut shell, our O-line is undersized and is mostly devoid of real athletes. Williams has the size, now let's see the talent! Dan Brenning was an excellent guard for Tampa, and we're not starting him, why? Too many stupid decisions and a lot of WASTED talent and time.

Sometimes admitting that mistakes were made is half the problem! Unfortunatly, until this method of coaching runs its course, we're simply along for the ride. I am a true Bears fan and this brand of coaching mentality sickens me. TOO passive and with little or no consequences. WE WILL NEVER BE CONSISTANTLY SUCESSFUL IN ANY PHASE OR WIN A SUPERBOWL THIS WAY! Here's to much needed change.

COME ON BEARS, WAKE UP!!!!!!!!

Hey DozenDuece.......where are you...do you still have your head up Kyle's a$$?????.....Face it, we are doomed with Orton as the starter and you and everyone else knows it!!!!.....Time is ticking on this old bunch of Bears that Jerry rewarded with big contracts in the past!!.....It's time to take some of that money and spend it on real players...Starting with a new QB!!!!!!!!!!!

Tripper....amen, brother...Kyle can stick around...as third string QB until his contract runs out! Then he can go do shaving commercials or go play Santa Claus somewhere.....he totally sucks!!!...Please, Mr. Angelo...keep your word and fix this QB mess!!!!!!

Bears release Booker. Well so far one good move. We'll see how things unfold from here.

By Moses on February 13, 2009 8:44 AM
Let the old geezer go!!!!!....We need to get younger...draft a tackle and let him compete with Tate..Use that Dan Buenning dude at one guard along with Beekman, with that our line is set until Olin retires...We need a QB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Moses while the Bears do need to draft a OT, and yes they even need to get younger, if the Bears loose St. Clair they will be down too two OT's. That is really bad, one injury and you are missing a OT. Also you do realize Tait is older than St. Clair and his contract ends this season. So even if the draft a OT at the end of next season they still will have only two OT's. St. Clair is no starter but he is as verstile as anyone in the league and a solid backup.

As for the line being set if they draft one guy. I do not think that having 2 OT's after next year 3 OG's and 1 center qualifies as being set for years. Not to mention, you do not know how Williams back will hold up having herniated a disk twice in 3 years or even if he is any good, never having started a game. You also are talking about loosing Olin in the next 2-3 years and who will take over for him? Beekman? But then you need another guard. Again not set, the Bears offensive line is thin as it stands, if they loose St.Clair they are paper thin, there are a lot of Teams that would like to have a 31 year old swing Tackle that does not have a ton of miles on the treads and can play 4 positions on the line. Thats a pretty good thing to have in in a backup.

If the Bears don't sine him thats fine, thats there choice some team is going to give him some decent money, but if they don't sign him I better see Ebon Britton in the first round this year.

Oh and yes we need a QB.

But if you had not heard "Kyle You called down the thunder well now you got it Orton" is the most bestest QB ever. He once threw a ball 30 yards for a reception. Literally he did it once all season, just once, not twice, no just once. He may even do it once again next year, let the Legacy continue.

Joe think about what you are saying. You basically want to hand both tackle positions over too two unproven rookies this year. Granted you need to get younger and you need another OT in the draft, but you also need a solid proven backup. You should also know the Bears already said Willimas will start this season. As for Stinchcomb, isn't he signed? He is the starting RT for the Saints and has started like 50 games in a row. He was also the Saints man of the year. Why would he leave the Saint's to sign as a backup for the bears. There are at least 20 teams out there that would sign him to start at RT. The guy is All Pro calibur talent. He is really good and I would love to have him, but as a backup? That makes no sense, he gave up like 3 sacks this year and is there best run blocker. Dude I just checked he is signed. Maybe we could get All Pro Jordan Gross to be a backup instead, after all he is a 28 year old All Pro left tackle I sure he would like to be backup to the Bears as well. We can have two young all pro backups in Stinchcomb and Gross sitting on the bench behind are two unproven rookie starters one of which we have not even drafted. Hahahahaha.

Sorry Joe I just couldn't resist, Jon Stinchcomb as a back up. Hahaha, well Joe at least you aim high. Real Real high.

By Moses on February 13, 2009 8:44 AM
Let the old geezer go!!!!!....We need to get younger...draft a tackle and let him compete with Tate..Use that Dan Buenning dude at one guard along with Beekman, with that our line is set until Olin retires...We need a QB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Moses while the Bears do need to draft a OT, and yes they even need to get younger, if the Bears loose St. Clair they will be down too two OT's. That is really bad, one injury and you are missing a OT. Also you do realize Tait is older than St. Clair and his contract ends this season. So even if the draft a OT at the end of next season they still will have only two OT's. St. Clair is no starter but he is as verstile as anyone in the league and a solid backup.

As for the line being set if they draft one guy. I do not think that having 2 OT's after next year 3 OG's and 1 center qualifies as being set for years. Not to mention, you do not know how Williams back will hold up having herniated a disk twice in 3 years or even if he is any good, never having started a game. You also are talking about loosing Olin in the next 2-3 years and who will take over for him? Beekman? But then you need another guard. Again not set, the Bears offensive line is thin as it stands, if they loose St.Clair they are paper thin, there are a lot of Teams that would like to have a 31 year old swing Tackle that does not have a ton of miles on the treads and can play 4 positions on the line. Thats a pretty good thing to have in in a backup.

If the Bears don't sine him thats fine, thats there choice some team is going to give him some decent money, but if they don't sign him I better see Ebon Britton in the first round this year.

Oh and yes we need a QB.

But if you had not heard "Kyle You called down the thunder well now you got it Orton" is the most bestest QB ever. He once threw a ball 30 yards for a reception. Literally he did it once all season, just once, not twice, no just once. He may even do it once again next year, let the Legacy continue.

Joe think about what you are saying. You basically want to hand both tackle positions over too two unproven rookies this year. Granted you need to get younger and you need another OT in the draft, but you also need a solid proven backup. You should also know the Bears already said Willimas will start this season. As for Stinchcomb, isn't he signed? He is the starting RT for the Saints and has started like 50 games in a row. He was also the Saints man of the year. Why would he leave the Saint's to sign as a backup for the bears. There are at least 20 teams out there that would sign him to start at RT. The guy is All Pro calibur talent. He is really good and I would love to have him, but as a backup? That makes no sense, he gave up like 3 sacks this year and is there best run blocker. Dude I just checked he is signed. Maybe we could get All Pro Jordan Gross to be a backup instead, after all he is a 28 year old All Pro left tackle I sure he would like to be backup to the Bears as well. We can have two young all pro backups in Stinchcomb and Gross sitting on the bench behind are two unproven rookie starters one of which we have not even drafted. Hahahahaha.

Sorry Joe I just couldn't resist, Jon Stinchcomb as a back up. Hahaha, well Joe at least you aim high. Real Real high.

I'm with you Joe.

You hate to let a good player go, but an NFL franchise can't really make a habit of keeping 31 year old backups. Maybe if they play a "rotation" type position like D-line or receiver it could make some sense. Maybe QB. That's it. Start him or part ways. Same with Metcalf.

There's no reason why the Bears should rush into negotiations with St. Clair. He's done a nice job, and I don't think people gave him enough credit for this past season. He did give up the 2nd most sacks by a LT, but they again, not every LT wen't against the best DE in football. Allen is an absolute beast and can't be controlled without a legitimate double-team.

Creighton,
Perhaps I explained myself poorly on that one. Stopped halfway through my thought and moved on to something else...Adult A.D.D. kicking in...I think Stinchcomb could beat Tait with one arm, but the Bears as usual seem resigned to letting him play out his deal rather than focus on the future. Hopefully by signing a right tackle, that would prompt a release of Tait, which would help us get younger and healthier. He hasn't been solid on his ankles and knees in years. If we are going to bring in a tackle, why not bring in someone who makes you better, instead of giving you a decent insurance policy? I hadn't heard that he was inked. A couple of different times on NFL radio he was mentioned as a free agent target for some teams in the last couple of days, but I hadn't verified that. Deservedly, I'll take some ribbing there.

At some point, we need to switch this team away from the aging vets on the line to some new blood. Why not try it now, when we are significantly off the pace to compete for a Super Bowl appearance? If Orton is what everyone seems to think, and is only a stopgap until our next franchise QB experiment, then what are we really risking by putting rookies out there? We might do better in the run game with some linemen that have two good legs to position for blocks, and that would take some pressure of the pass protection.

If we are as close as Lovie thinks we are, this is all a moot point, and our draft picks will be the missing piece of the puzzle. But with no pressure from the front 4, no ability to protect the QB from the front 5, and no separation from our WRs at any level of the passing tree, we had better get 15 TDs out of Hester and Manning in the return game. If the Bears are who they appear to be, we are at least 5 players away from contending. A #1 WR, a RT, a RG, a FS, and a SLB. We also need some better guys on special teams. That won't be fixed this offseason, unless Jerry has a lucky rabbit's foot or something he hasn't broken out until now...

You have to take what the draft gives you.
It just so happens to be another great year for Offensive linemen.
It is VERY likely that a really good lineman will be available when the Bears pick at 18. Since there are no standout DL it might be the best move.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on February 13, 2009 6:56 AM.

Four Down Territory, Feb. 12: Is Angelo waiting for 2010 QB class? was the previous entry in this blog.

Booker one of three players released is the next entry in this blog.

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