Kevin Shaffer did his homework when it came to joining the Bears, checking in with Roberto Garza, a former teammate in Atlanta. He liked the situation the Bears presented and ultimately moved to sign with them even though he was getting interest elsewhere, including from the Cincinnati Bengals.
In the AFC North, Shaffer faced a slew of talented pass rushers playing right tackle last season, including Baltimore's Terrell Suggs and Pittsburgh's James Harrison, the defensive player of the year. Stats Inc. had him allowing 4 1/2 sacks over the season. Although that is an impossible statistic to truly track, consider Stats had John St. Clair surrendering 9 1/2 last season at left tackle for the Bears, half to Minnesota's Jared Allen.
Here is what Shaffer had to say this afternoon about joining the Bears. He will sign his contract Thursday after undergoing a physical.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON JOINING THE BEARS?
KS: It feels great. I'm glad we were able to work something out. It's something we were talking about for a while and I am definitely excited.
IS YOUR GOAL TO COME IN AND WIN THE RIGHT TACKLE JOB AS SOON AS POSSIBLE?
KS: The goal is to come in and win a starting job. We haven't talked too much about that, or at length or anything. We came up with the deal and I am going to hear out there [Thursday] and sign the deal. But when I get there I want to show them what I can do. I have always been a hard worker and I am in a situation where I am going to prove myself. I have always been a hard worker. The goal, obviously, is to win a starting job but no matter what happens I'm going to give everything I've got and show them what I am made of.
YOU'RE A GUY WHO HAS MISSED JUST TWO STARTS THE LAST FIVE SEASONS. IS THAT KIND OF TRACK RECORD IMPORTANT TO YOU?
KS: I had a nice streak going and I missed one game there. That's one thing I have been able to do, I've played in a bunch of games. I came to realize if you're a full-time starter in this league you're going to have some aches and pains and problems here and there. It's playing through that and playing at a high level. I hope to be able to continue to do that for several more years.
HOW DID IT END IN CLEVELAND WITH THEM RELEASING YOU BEFORE A ROSTER BONUS WAS DUE?
KS: We were talking to them for a couple of days before the bonus was due. We tried to work something out and at the end I just didn't feel comfortable with the situation. They had a decent offer [for a restructured contract] on the table but for whatever reason we just didn't feel comfortable with the situation. I didn't know what was going on [with the new regime] and where that was going.
WAS IT A SITUATION WHERE THEY JUST WANTED TO TRIM TOO MUCH SALARY?
KS: It was a whole new situation with the deal they wanted. It didn't make us feel good about the situation overall. But it was a decent deal.
OBVIOUSLY, YOU PLAYED IN ATLANTA WITH ROBERTO GARZA, WHO YOU COULD PLAY ALONGSIDE HERE. WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE BEARS?
KS: Everything I have heard has been positive. I played next to Roberto with the Falcons and I thought he was an awesome player, very strong in the weight room. We worked together and had a competitive nature there and on the field. We were good friends. Everything he has said has been very positive. Lennie Friedman, who used to play for the Bears, we are good friends and he filled me in on the coaches and the city and the scheme. Everything has been very positive.