Chicago Sun-Times

Exploring the options at tackle if St. Clair signs elsewhere

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With John St. Clair visiting the Cleveland Browns today it forces us to pose the question, what's next?

If St. Clair signs with the Browns or another team, the already changing Bears' offensive line has another major question to answer--who plays right tackle?

General manager Jerry Angelo could draft a tackle in the first round with the 18th pick and plan on plugging him in there from Day 1. He tried that last season and that didn't work so well with Chris Williams, although by all accounts he will be ready to go as the starting left tackle when minicamp opens Tuesday.

The Bears could venture into free agency and take a look at what is around.

They could do both.

What they'll find in the third week of free agency is a long list of players long in the tooth, players with injury baggage or both.

Here is an incomplete list of possibilities with the player's last team listed:

George Foster, Detroit
. He's visited Cincinnati already. The Bears got an up-close look at how vulnerable he was twice a season.

Adam Goldberg, St. Louis. Seemed to improve once he left Minnesota. Has visited Cleveland and could return to the Rams.

Kwame Harris, Oakland. Offensive tackle might have a good strike ratio when it comes to first-round picks. Here's an example of a first-round miss.

Orlando Pace, St. Louis. His Pro Bowls seem obscured by injuries of late, although he was on the field most of last season. He's strictly been a left tackle.

Jon Runyan, Philadelphia. A beast in his prime, Runyan might not be healthy.

Ephraim Salaam, Houston. Before the Bears signed Fred Miller in 2005, they made a run at Salaam.

Kevin Shaffer, Cleveland
. Has plenty of experience starting, particularly on the right side.

Marvel Smith, Pittsburgh. Back issues are biggest question for one-time Pro Bowl performer. He drew interest in Baltimore and Oakland.

Mark Tauscher, Green Bay. Knee surgery might keep him on the shelf until some time in the season.

Other options that are not on the market, the open market that is:

Jonas Jennings, San Francisco. It's doubtful he returns to the Niners after some injury-wrecked seasons. In fact, he's been informed he isn't in the team's plans. That would indicate Jennings will likely be released.

Levi Jones, Cincinnati
. The Bengals are actively working to trade Jones. If they can't deal him, they'll probably cut him. Like Pace, he's been a left tackle.

Another alternative would be to use Frank Omiyale, the Bears first free-agent signing, at right tackle. He's primarily played tackle in four seasons in the league but Angelo said the Bears want to look at him first at guard. He's expected to compete immediately at left guard with Josh Beekman.

Just some names to consider if St. Clair winds up elsewhere. We'll get to Four Down Territory later on today so make sure you get in your questions. We're doing three mailbags this week with minicamp.

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14 Comments

Nice that we go to mini-camp without a starting right tackle. Does Cody Balough line up at RT??? This is becoming comical. This coach and GM do not have a clue. This has got to be the cheapest team in the NFL. It goes back a long way to. Prior to the 1988 season the Redskins signed Wilbur Marshall to an offer sheet. (6 mil over 3 years) Marshall was in the prime of his career and was a stud LB. Butttttttt.. we let him go. No way he is worth 2 mil a season. Right Mike McCaskey??? I dont care about this possible un-capped season coming up. Lets get involved and compete. Unless we hit the lottery in the draft (cough-cough) we are done. There are way too many holes to fill with rookies. Hard to say this but the vikings look like they have the division again. They by far have the best defense and probably the best RB in Peterson. My hope is (bear with me) is that we start out like 2-8. That is the only way that we can get the idiot twins (Lovie/JA) out of this town. Lovie lives in a fantasy world with his cover zero defense. Nobody plays it anymore and the word is out on how to defeat it. Plus the defense is designed to rush the QB, but it does not play the run well at all. JA said that himself. Why not match a fast 3 technique like Harris with a monster 2 gap NT??? But Lovie will not alter the program.. just wont. Now we are invested in over the hill players like Urlacher and Harris (mental case) and have nothing to show for it. The 4-3 is a good D.. but you need stud tackles to clog the middle and let your LB's create havoc. The come back of the 3-4 is not surprising. Its a very tough D to adjust against. Especially with the outside rush LB's coming from every angle. I'll even say that the packers will rate higher in total D then we will. Might as well. Maybe that should happen. The more the better to help kick the idiot twins out of the Bears locker room.. I love this team, but those two have run it into the ground...

Take the youngest guy on the list!!

Brad,
I have to disagree with you about Lance Moore. Len Pasquarelli from ESPN had this to say:
"A former undrafted free agent (Toledo), Moore is quick, dynamic and runs precise pass routes. Think of Wes Welker (New England), with more speed and wiggle. We normally don't recommend a player with second-round compensation, BUT MOORE IS MORE ACCOMPLISHED THAN ANY WIDE RECEIVER A TEAM CAN DRAFT IN THE SECOND ROUND. And wide receiver is a position where players don't exactly thrive as rookies. Moore is only 25, and he might be worth sacrificing a No. 2 pick to get. He had 79 catches for 928 yards and 10 touchdowns, playing in all 16 games (six starts), in 2008."
All due respect Brad, he'd be the best receiver the Bears have had in a long time. Your comment about the search for a prototypical wide receiver are absurd. The Bears will never pay that kind of money for a FA with those physical attributes and outstanding skills and the draft is hit or miss at best. So I'll disagree with you and say this move is absolutely necessary for the Bears.

It is looking more and more obvious that the Bears are intent on the youth movemnet for the O-line which is a good thing.

Released Terrance Metcalf, not budging on over paying St.CLaire whom they see as a back-up forced into the starting line up, signing Frank Umiyale to a long term deal, Beekman starting last season as a 2'nd year pro, trading for Dan Buenning last season ect...

Garza could be shown the door before long and one has to wonder how long Olin Kruetz will reamain a Bear. I forsee Garza getting dumped before the season opener and Kruetz could be dumped after the season so the Bears can feature a completely rebuilt O-line for the 2010 season.

Angelo will add a veteran OT, it just is a matter of when and ultimately who. They want St.Claire back to bridge the gap for the future RT who likely will be drafted in April but if he opts to sign on somewhere else then they have a few other options still on the table including Barnes, Shafer, Salaam and Smith who could fill the role for a season or two.

As long as the Bears sign someone who can not only be a good enough player at the tackle position, but also can play a full season as well. I hate to see the Bears throw there money away on a player who can only give them five or six games of healthy football.

All of this Cutler talk is exciting. I have supported Orton from day 1, but if there is a chance to get Cutler we need to. Another team in play is Minnesota and if they get him we are truly f&^%ed. Cutler is game tested, went to the Pro Bowl and can throw the deep ball. Angelo said it starts at QB. Let's see if he puts his money where his mouth is.

As for RT, the can line up Omiyale at it now and draft a stud like Oher who can start the minute he walks into Halas Hall. I am so glad they are not bringing back the swinging gate. Have fun in Brown country loser.

GO BEARS.

I really like the direction things are going. The OL needs to be rebuilt. I wish JA had committed some 1st & 2nd rd picks to it prior to Williams, but at least the process has begun. I think we will see the new RT in the 1st or 2nd rd. I prefer a swing tackle in the 1st because we have no quarantee Williams back will hold up, or how well he will do.

The OL needs a lot of work if they are going to draft a QB next year.

One of the frustrating parts of O-line is that it is hard to even know much about starters and nearly impossible for the average fan to know anything about bench players. Everyone keeps saying all we have at right tackle is undrafted free agent Cody Balough and this needs to be addressed. All I know about Balough is that the Bears recruited him pretty hard as an UFA. He was one of the last cuts, and they paid him to keep him around all last year.

Does anybody know why we should eliminate Cody Balough for the right tackle job?

Strass: "Lovie lives in a fantasy world with his cover zero defense. Nobody plays it anymore and the word is out on how to defeat it. Plus the defense is designed to rush the QB, but it does not play the run well at all. JA said that himself."

Chicago was 5th in the NFL versus the rush last season. They have finished no higher than 11th in three of the last four years (5,24,6,11).

If you're going to blame Lovie of being in a "fantasy world" you may want to check out reality yourself.

I agree that this defense fell off the cliff but that's been with their pass rushing. No pressure on QB's is what has been killing this defense. It seemed all last season Chicago was great on 1st and 2nd down and then shiat their pants on 3rd and long. That means the guys up front weren't getting it done even when Babich was dialing up blitz after blitz. In order for any defense to work - regardless of the scheme - you need to be able to pressure the QB. Chicago didn't and that got them a 9-7 season and no playoffs.

I think the the demotion of Babich was 2 years too late. If Lovie can take over the defense and they return to prominence then all is well but this is a make-or-break season for Lovie and maybe Jerry as well. Though to be honest, I'm more forgiving of Lovie as his colossal fark-up was running Rivera out of town. Jerry's continuous fark-ups dwarf Lovie's.

Coach I agree that the pass-rush needs to ramp up, but:

"the biggest problem with the Bears is that they can't cover anybody."

Those words came out of the mouth of Da Coach himself in a pre-game about 3/4 way through the season last year. The pass rush will help, but they got to figure it out at corner and find a center fielder too.

To Da Church of the Coach...ummmm we were what in total D... 25th? They sold out to stop the run hence the pass D sucked. This jamming the A gaps with Briggs and Urlacher was a gimick. Yeah the run D did well because they directed all resources to it. Then they left the pass D exposed. So yeah I know what the hell I am talking about. Look at the packers road game. The backed off to play the normal D and we got shredded on the ground. Do you remember that or were you doing reality checks on posters?? This cover-2 BS is yesterdays news. If Matt Ryan (rookie QB) knows where to attack it on a last second pass, then the D is in trouble. And if you are going to tell me that Lovie is a good coach then its you that needs the reality check. Lovie has no business being a coach. Rivera knew that the scheme needed some adjusting.. so Lovie fired him. Great.. explain that to me. This game is constantly evolving. Wonder why we lose so many games in the 2nd half, because Lovie rarely makes the adjustments. Lovie has shown time and again that he is not a tactical thinker when things are on the line. If you want I can give you example after example... but I think I will go sit down and enjoy my fantasy world....

Coach I hate to do this to you but we were 5th against the run because we stacked the box all year long. It was one of the reasons we got killed in the passing game. By the way the T2 is designed to stop the passing game, so not only did it not work, it ripped apart. The other thing to remember is they kept blitzing. You don't blitz in the T2 if you do your just trying to cover up for your secondary.

Now nobody here would like Cutler in a Bears uniform more than me, but I know it's not going to happen. I bet Angelo won't even try. If Detroit gets him, you can expect me to hunt down Angelo and feed him Kyle Orton.

Good commentary, I agree completely that Lovie and half time adjustments ane not synonomous. I have been an advocate that Lovie is part of the problem with his cronyism. Yes the Bears sold out to the run all year and they coached away the pass rush the last two years. Lets see what Marinelli brings to the table to get to the QB?

Brad, could you help me with a little more detail as to how good is Balogh at Right Tackle, what are his strengths and weaknesses and could he eventually be a starter at ROT?

By the way if that is all they will offer St. CLair it's no wonder he has not signed. Omiyale has had 1 start in 4 years and is totally unproven is making 3 times that amount. It looks like a smoke screen to me. There trying to act like they want him back but they are offering him less money than just about anyone else will. Plus it's backup monsy and they want him to start? I think unless someone special falls to the Bears at 18 like Oher, the will go OT in rd2. I also think it depends on what reciever is there in round 1, FS looks like round 3 or later and I bet we see a NT/DT in the first 3 rounds if the bears get a third round comp pick. Round 1 is still probably best player available at one of there many needs: QB (If it's for Cutler) RT, WR, FS, DL, OG/C, LB, CB.

Oh and PLEASE LET ST. CLAIR SIGN WITH THE BROWNS AND NOT THE BEARS, I WANT A GOOD RT ON THE BEARS!!!! This St. Clair thing really feels like a smoke screen to me. I don't think the Bears are that interested in him but are trying to act like there doing something in the offseason. If he St. CLair were there prioity like they have stated, then why offer him less than Omiyale. That doesn't sound liek a priority to me there both Olinemen who are expected to start.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on March 16, 2009 12:21 AM.

St. Clair to visit Cleveland Browns on Monday was the previous entry in this blog.

Bears announce Hillenmeyer, Dvoracek to be sidelined at minicamp is the next entry in this blog.

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