Chicago Sun-Times

What can Brown do for you? Decision on safety to come at some point

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To re-sign Mike Brown or not ... that's one of the questions the Bears will have to answer soon if they have not already tackled that issue in a Halas Hall board room.

If the organization has not already completed organizational meetings reviewing the 2008 season and charting a path for the offseason ahead, it will probably do so by the end of the week. That would give them next week to gear up for the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, which begins Thursday, Feb. 19.

One of the first orders of business for general manager Jerry Angelo is determining what to do with his own own players. All clubs hold exclusive negotiating rights with their own free agents until free agency opens Feb. 27. Brown and left tackle John St. Clair are the only primary starters from last season who will be unrestricted free agents. Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, running back Kevin Jones, quarterback Rex Grossman, linebacker Darrell McClover and safeties Brandon McGowan and Cameron Worrell will be UFA's. Weak-side linebacker Nick Roach and cornerback Marcus Hamilton are exclusive rights free agents.

Brown turns 31 Friday. He's missed 44 regular-season games over the last five seasons, an extraordinary amount of time matched only by the unprecedented patience shown by the team. He left three games in 2008 without returning because of a calf injury that eventually landed him on injured reserve before the season finale at Houston.

If you just go on the reaction of Angelo at this time last year, it's unlikely the club will ask Brown back. Angelo had moved on and then some time between his end-of-season comments and the opening of free agency, the Bears reversed course. Brown restructured his contract and returned for a season in which he almost made it through. He finished fourth on the team with 101 tackles, the third-highest total of his career.

What quarterback has been to the offense, safety has been to the defense. The Bears have had a revolving door there and as Grossman's injuries contributed to much of the turnover at quarterback, Brown's injuries contributed to even more change in the secondary.

In the past five seasons, the Bears have changed their starting free safety 16 times and their starting strong safety 14 times.

"Concern because you just look at our history with the amount of safeties we end up playing each year,'' coach Lovie Smith said after the season when asked about the position. "We seem to get hit injury wise with it. It's a tough position physically on guys that play. We'll always be looking for good safeties to add.''

A case can be made that bringing back Brown would foster more instability at the position than it would provide. Not bringing him back will be a hard decision to make. Juggling the secondary when he's out has proven to be difficult as well.

As far as the other free agents, St. Clair is seeking to be a starter and with the left tackle job being handed over to Chris Williams, he'll have to look elsewhere if he wants to stay at tackle. The Bears, no doubt, would like to have him back but it's unknown if they would be willing to make him any assurances about play time inside at guard. In the past, the club has let its free agents test the open market before engaging in real negotiations. That could happen here.

Lloyd will likely be one-and-done unless offensive coordinator Ron Turner has some real juice when it comes to the final say. Based on how Jones wasn't used, he could be a longshot to return. Jones said he'd like to but he also sees himself as a starter. McClover also wants to return and that's something that probably will happen as a piece for the special teams puzzle.

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16 Comments

I am still angry about trading Chris Harris to Carolina. The kid is a stud and hasn't missed a game. Please draft 2 safety's and maybe pick 1 up in Free Agency. Thanks for the numbers Brad. I knew we had a lot of turnover but 16 free safety and 14 strong safety. That is terrible. That number almost makes the QB number look good. LOL.

GO BEARS.

Brown can do me the favor of retiring as a Bear after being born a cub. Set an example for those loyal players. And if he's smart for his own physical safety, he should retire before he harms his body any further, which can effect his health later in life.

Keep Brown............get rid of Kyle Orton!!!!!!

Hey Briggs. We really appreciate all that you do for us 'football-starved' fans during the NFL "offseason".
But on the topic of Mike Brown/finding another safety, I don't know about you, but I have been clamoring the last couple of years for the Bears to find a way to get Brian Dawkins into the Navy Blue and Orange, who now b/t/w, will be a UFA! I just think that that guy's football smarts and leadership skills are almost second to none in the league, outside of maybe the aforementioned Brown when healthy. I realize that he's on the 'wrong side' of 30, but don't you think that he could be exactly the kind of player that the Bears need to QB their D for the next 3-5 years?

Thanks again,
Dave C

Right on, Tripper.....let Hanie start. He's got a better arm, more mobile, and less facial hair!!!

You guys haven't seen anything from Hanie to indicate he will be worth a crap. Let them compete like anyone else. Get over the facial hair too.

I've seen more good from Hanie in preseason that says "Play me and win or play FuzzFace and lose!"

With Kyle Orton as QB1, the Bears are 21 wins with only 12 losses, a 63.6% Winning Percentage. He had a QB rating in the 90's before he got hurt and again at the end of the season when he healed up.

So naturally this means he's a loser, is probably the worst QB of all time & we should dump him immediately even though he only has one more year on his low-priced contract extension.

I just love it when people who don't comprehend football bless us with their insightful commentaries.

Bring back Brown but at strong safety with Payne as backup. Move Tillman to Free Safety with McGowan as backup. Draft the Free safety from Alabama or another developmental free safety later in the third round or later.

Brown had 101 tackles, he only missed 3 games last year, he seemed to be the only guy last year on the D that was a missile when it came to getting big hits. Bring him back but also bring in FS and SS help from the draft in case Brown is not capable anymore to get it done with minimal injury. You know that Brown loves the contact at Strong safety!

The bottom line is that the BEARS are a better team with him than without him. If he gets injured keep him as a coach, he most likely would be a great one, he is respected and a leader.

didn't Harris look worse than Manning @ safety . My last memeory of him was when he was 20 yards outta the picture when Wayne caught his super bowl TD... and seemed to happen an awful lot before that one! Memories are short when it comes to the Ex-Bear factor.

I believe that Payne led the team in interceptions and could be a viable option as a hard-hitting FS.

Playing Daniel Manning at SS would put him in the box and limit his opportunities to blow deep coverage. As an all-pro kick returner, his speed would flash in the run game. As a former corner, I'm sure that he would be capable of locking down TEs.

Given the history of injuries to the safety position, Does anyone really think that Tillman is capable making 101 smash-mouth tackles from the FS position without getting hurt? Is he going to stick his face in a running backs chest? The guy messed up his shoulder making a low tackle on an Eagles TE. I don't think so...

Kevin Jones has talent, but he tries to bounce runs outside instead of hitting the cutback hard. He doesn't work well in their system.

Mike Brown is as much a part of the Chicago Bears as Brian Urlacher. Jerry Angelo would be an idiot to get rid of such a natural leader as Mike. Mike has a history of making a big play when it counts. I remember the Arizona game on Monday night in 2006 when he picked up that fumble that Peanut caused and ran it back for a TD. That entire momentum swing in that game started with that play. I also remember two back to back overtime games where the last play of the game came from Mike Brown taking two interceptions to the house. Two weeks in a row. Nobody on here must have never seen these plays (tsk, tsk, fair weather fans), or they have poor memory. Mike Brown may not play every game, but every game that he plays should be for the Chicago Bears. He is competitive, hard-hitting, and smart, but most importantly, he is the HEART of this defense.

I remember a lot of great plays by Danimal, McMichael, Singletary and Duerson too. But I don't want any of them starting against Green Bay now. Same's true for Brown. He is way too slow getting there anymore and the film shows it. I'm sad to see him go but he must go. As for Manning playing SS, you're nuts. He couldn't take it anymore than Tillman could. Payne remains the best option. We need to draft a FS with range and ball skills. Too bad Manning doesn't have the instincts. Keep him at nickel and let him blitz a little. That's all he's good for except KR where he does well. We need a stud DE on the left and move Brown to the right side. Or draft a real NT to keep everybody from getting pushed around. It starts in the trenches. Look at Fisher in TN. He still needs a few stars down there but look at the lines he keeps building. Duh!

Dahli Mike gets hurt when he plays SS, thats why they moved him to FS this year. Of course they moved him back and thats when he got hurt again.

Tom, Harris is a strong saftie by trade who is good against the run and at stripping the ball, but he is not a FS and gets burned to often by recievers as he showed in the playoffs.

JA Jr. it does not matter what his stats are, teams went right at Payne and burned him a lot more than he had picks. The reason he had a lot of tackles is because teams went at him. Payne also struggled as FS and a SS which is why they moved Brown around.

Angelo is giving Manning a shot at FS this year, end of story. He has already basically come out and said this. He also basically came out and said Brown is gone. Angelo has to show his draft picks can get the job done, which thay have not shown. 26th ranked offense and 21st ranked defense the only current strength to the Bears team is Special teams.

Mike Brown is a superb player. Just too bad he is getting up in years and has a history of injuries.Bears have to start looking.

keep brown if you can get him cheap(the mc caskey way)if for anything as depth!then upgrade the position through the draft or free agency!WHY NOT TRADE SOME DRAFT PICKS TO TAKE CARE OF OUR PROBLEM ARES,QB AND SAFETY,THEN WE HAVE ESTABLISHED PLAYERS AT THOSE POSTIONS SINCE ANGELOS BEEN HIT AND MISS DRAFTING FOR THEM!! then angelo can draft for depth in the later rounds wich hes been good at finding talent there .

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on February 11, 2009 11:57 AM.

Four Down Territory, Feb. 10: From Orton to Sanchez and Stafford was the previous entry in this blog.

Kiper dishes on myriad of draft possibilities for Bears is the next entry in this blog.

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