Chicago Sun-Times

Sifting through the leftovers: What remains in free agency

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What's left in free agency? The answer is not much. Here is a list of remaining players in free agency with four years of experience.

Offensive tackle Khlaif Barnes (above) has broken off talks with Oakland and San Francisco. The assumption is that could point Marvel Smith toward Oakland. Smith, who has been hampered by back injuries the last two seasons in Pittsburgh, has reportedly drawn interest from Baltimore and Oakland. Barnes is believed to be close to signing with an unnamed team and a source ensured us late Friday night that the Bears are not in play for the ex-Jacksonville Jaguar.

How does it impact the Bears? Well, as David White pointed out in the San Francisco Chronicle, no one wants to be the first to take a deal and then watch guys around him use that contract as a building block to something bigger and better. The Bears have not been players for Barnes or Smith but are hoping to re-sign John St. Clair. Movement on that front could come in the next week.

Elsewhere, there's one report that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could have interest in often-injured safety Brandon McGowan. No telling how the re-signing of Jermaine Phillips could impact that interest.

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2 names jump out at me from that list: Mike Goff and Ray Willis. Both would be nice additions to the Bears OL. I also like the idea of Mike Peterson as a strongside linebacker for the Cover 2. He has played middle and weak side in his career, so they would have a lot of flexibility in changing up where the LBs line up and what they do at the snap. having a SLB who can cover means the mug-up front can be 7 guys without even flashing the safety in base defense.

Not sure if any of these will be brought in, but we should at least talk to Goff...He is a solid run blocker and can hold up against guys like the Williams wall...

Leftovers again...the way this team is shaping up, it will be very lucky if it can even beat Detroit next year. Blame angelo and the McJokeskeys!!!

Sign a guy like Barnes???? Big...Strong....bulldozer of a Tackle... Young and in his prime???? NAAAA thats not Angelo. He would rather sign and older undersized guy who will contribute more to furthering the mediocraty of the team rather than lifting it to higher standards. This guy (Barnes) would fill Taits spot and provide more than just a stop gap, he would be an instant starter for at leaste 5 years and let the Bears focus on another spot with the number 18 pick. It would even make drafting a DE at that pick acceptable so long as WR was addressed in the second round. Not gonna happen though. We will let him sign somewhere else and probably draft for that Tackle spot after having overpaid an aging and average St. Clair first. OHHHH Angelo!!! What a flawed philosophy. You cant just stockpile mediocre players on Offense and expect to be able to move/controll the ball. Can sombody please suggest a player personell expert that is actually versed on procuring real talent???!!!!

Who wants another teams junk anyway? If they were so good, they wouldn't be free agents in the first place. The original team wouldn't let them! Build through the draft and hope you stay healthy!

I`m not as worried about our offensive line, as I am our wide receivers, and our defensive backs. I really don`t feel that we have anyone on our roster currently that can even be mentioned as a shut down corner, which is a real problem because those teams like Arizona, and Houston, that have the two best receivers in the game right now, are always going to exploit our secondary when we play them. I think Harry Hiestand did an awesome job last season, getting our offensive line to play as well as it did, and I feel he will do the same this season as well, but if we can`t cover anyone, and IF we can`t put any pressure on the opponents Quarterback!?

I would rather see the Bears get younger and bigger on the O-line instead of stagnating with aging players.

If I were Jerry Angelo, I would do everything in my power to draft the 2 big guys in the draft, Herman Johnson and Phil Loadholt.

Let those big fellas compete for the starting G positions, give Williams a chance to see what he can do at LT, and let St. Clair and Omiyale compete at RT.

If we can get those big maulers into the mix, maybe we can get off the bus running again...

Relax folks there's a way to fill needs through the draft if Angelo uses his brain. There's a very plausible way to address all the Bears' needs with good players (who could likely start), on day one of the draft.

Draft Strategy

Also name me the last Super Bowl Championship team that was built through free agency by spending a ton of money. The Redskins, Jets, Cowboys try try try and always fail. Just look at how bad the Jets got bit in the arss for all the moves they made last year with signing Alan Faneca, trading for Brett Favre (which is the equivalent of getting an old receiver like Harrison, Owens or Holt).

The Jets didn't even make the playoffs after expanding their payroll but such a large amount in 2008.

Like the Suggestion Of Loadholt and H. Johnson made by Greg. I dont really care for the idea of St. Clair comming back. Yes he performed very well last year under adversity. But lets get bigger and younger, St. Clair provided neither of those things. Unfortunately While the Bears have expressed an affinity for Loadholt they have also stated that they dont like large oversized lineman. That has proven true considering some of the undersized overachieving types Angelo has drafted or signed. Just look at Josh Beekman and R.Garza. In Chicago when the weather turns ugly the best way to go is with a line that is built big and mean. Finesse undersized lines like the ones in places like Indy make sence for dome teams not for outdoor teams. Just ask Philly and NY-Giants about the virtues of powerfull rughed o-lineman. By the way drafting a wr taller than 5"10 would also be a revelation for our brainiak GM

It's taken me a while, but I'm finally getting it. The Bears almost have to go high with a d-end somewhere in the draft. Heck, they may wanna grab 2. Almost every d-end on the current roster is in a contract year. We could potentially have a complete turn over at that position next season. If we don't look ahead now, we may be stuck looking back at the '85 championship for another 2 decades.

I agree with Brettski, it's always astonishing when some "fans" says that if Chicago doesn't sign everyone that the upcoming season is a waste. What did Arizona do in the last offseason? I don't really remember them signing any high profile FA's. Would I love to have some of the free agents like Haynesworth? Sure, but at the cost some of these players are asking, no. Hypotheticaly, if Chicago had signed some of the FA's the "fans" wanted and they tanked they would be all over Angelo criticizing him even more than they are now. I've concluded that the "fans" will never be happy with anything the team does.

Brettsky51, I could definitely see the Bears draft plan play out like that and I would be happy with that. Biggest needs get filled and there are a couple decent quality choices at those picks (if it actually falls that way.) But, most importantly, I can see Angelo trading down in the first, so this could turn into a reality. Hopefully he nabs the right guy at each pick. Time will tell.

greg & Pitbull,
I am ALL over the Herman Johnson bandwagon....This dude will dominate w/ some solid coaching! He needs to utilize his size and get more's the limit for this young man. Actually looked pretty good @RT in the Senior Bowl.

brettsky51 your one of the smartest people i heard on this site.People always talk free gents, but it not about who u pick up in free agency it about how your players play and react to coaching.Who thought last year that the Cardinals was the best NFC team on paper....NOBODY.We had an off year but the talent is still there.I think we already made the biggest changes in the off season already and thats with the coaching staff.But theres no doubt we need to make some addition to the the draft

"Sifting through the leftovers" says it all. And for those of you opposed to signing free agents, I suppose you don't recognize the fact that New England is the best team over the past ten years by far. How much did Randy Moss cost?

It is beyond contention that the only way to build a team that consistently competes to get to the Super Bowl is through the draft, but that doesn't mean that you don't also compliment those players with high quality free agents at positions of need and who fit your system when they become available. The Bears have far too many holes to fill through the draft unless you want to wait several years before they're able to compete again, and that's assuming they do well in the next few drafts, which they haven't offensively since Angelo's been here. This year was a relatively slim free agent market, but the Bears were absent from any meaningful signings. This is not how ownership that values winning acts.

What is the Bears situation with Brandon McGowan. It seems he is shopping his services. Are the Bears interested in re-signing him at all? I thought they were pretty high on him the last couple of years?

Brettsky 51,

You said...
"Relax folks there's a way to fill needs through the draft if Angelo uses his brain"

Historically, that has never happened. Historically, his draft capability is a failure.
Check out the Bears draft history and figure this one out for yourself.

Isn't Barnes another case of damaged goods ??

He has suffered the past(2) years with back injuries, that may be the reason why the Bears show little interest in him. They already have a young LT with back concerns, why would they bring in another one ??

Could you imagine the ramifications if Angelo inks Barnes and then next season both he and Williams miss time due to lingering back issues ?? All these crazed fans would go balistic !!!

Your exactly right Toby, no matter what Angelo does no one will ever be truly happy....

I say draft an OT in round 1, a FS in round 2, take a WR in round 3 and get them all on the field this season.... You fill three glaring needs with starting grade talent based on draft history. By 2010 you should have a completely rebuilt O-line with Willams at LT, Omiyale at LG, Beekman at Center, Buenning and RG and the 2009 draft pick at RT.

GO Bears !!

Whats the harm on signing Kalif Barnes to a short term bigger number per year? He's young and much better than St. Clair. If they can draft Loadholt on a 3rd round pick fine but I rather use the 1st and 2nd round picks on skilled position, Kenny Britt (traded down from 18th pick) and Jairus Byrd.

This is getting a little rediculous - with the weak NFC North this was our chance to cement a strong season. We only had a few weeknesses and those positions seemed to have alot of available players. The lack of effort to sign someone is absolutely unacceptable. The comment has been made that Angelo is going to hold tight and leave everything on Lovies shoulders. Lovie been an overachiever - he has saved Angelos hiney up until now. It is becoming more and more evident that Angelo is the problem here!

Actually I believe that most if not all Bears Fans would be happy to go further into the playoffs (rather than not at all). So to say no one will ever be truly happy with Angelo is really just a load(holt) of BS.
and last I checked even the Cardinals have some truly NFL Star players, who on the Bears compares to Fitz? or even Boldin? or to Warner? and they actually have a team D. Did you notice their D was one of the best?
The Cardinals (of all teams) picked the right players and signed the right free agents to get there, and when you get there you better keep your team upgraded or your team will fall apart and not go back for a long time (see the Bears last 2 years if you doubt me)

go here to see that they brought in 13 Free Agents in Ken Wisenhunts first year as head Coach.

go here to see that the Cards are active in Free Agency.

go here to see more that the Cards are active in Free Agent signings, in 2007

Now you don't always have to sign star Free Agents but as you can plainly see, NFL Teams need to sign even backup players to `fill the holes' which Jerry failed to do the last 2-3 years and our Bears are suffering bc of it. I and many other fans wanted JA to sign a couple Free Agent Offensive linemen last year, but here we are a year later and another year out of the playoffs and we are still talking offensive linemen. If he filled that position in the draft (as you say he does and should do) when the team needed it then we wouldn't still be talking Free Agent Offensive linemen AGAIN this year, now would we?.
Why some of these fans want to compare the Bears to other teams is beyond me. Please just show us (the ones who will never be happy with Angelo) what HE has done, NOT what other teams have done and try to somehow equate the Bears losing the past 2 years RIGHT AFTER the team was good enough for the Super Bowl with other teams succeses/failures.
Please read Kevin's posts, he is very good at writing up what Jerry has done, and see if you can learn by example, I may not agree with him all the time but I do agree with him more often than I admit to. lol
and (like Kevin) I do have some positive spins for next year but it depends on some if's and I hate depending on ifs. If Buenning, If Williams, If Bennet, If Harris, If Url, If Rod, If Omiyale, Now wouldn't it be alot less stress to bring in a Housh and not worry about If Bennet, If Hester....
Other teams accomplishments do nothing to improve the Bears record the last 2 years and has nothing at all to do with how the Bears are going to the Super Bowl or even the playoffs this year.
None of us would be wasting our time arguing this if Angelo did his job correctly, Now I do like (OK I LIKE ALOT) the way he picked up Free Agents to get us to the Super Bowl, but what happened? He dropped the ball on the offensive line while he picked/signed D players that did not get the job done the past 2 years.

Hypothetically, if Chicago had signed some of the FA's the "fans" wanted and they tanked they would be all over Angelo criticizing him even more than they are now.
Hypothetically?? ok
Hypothetically if Chicago had brought in some of the FA's the `fans' wanted and they succeed and went back to the Super Bowl last year like they should have we would be all over Angelo praising him for his braininess! :)
It is not always about top free agents - it is also about good backups, Booker would have been a great backup free agent, but not a starter - NOT your top free agent aquisition.

Khalif Barnes was a second round pick by the Jags who was a first round talent who fell, people should keep that in mind for this years draft. He is a lot like Andrea Smith in this years class, big and strong, not as big as smith, but big enough, more a run blocker than a pass blocker, Questionable character and Barnes gave up a ton of sacks this year. One thing people may want to consider is that the Bears are not a running team anymore, while they do run the football, under Turner they have almost always passed the ball a lot more. Judging by last years pick at OT if they do go after a OT in the early rounds they will look for a guy that is a good pass blocker to play RT, not a run blocker.

Bensonsucks, what do you mean judging by the Bears draft history they should they should have starting grade talent with the first 3 picks. That is not there history, they tend to miss on there first three more than they hit. You also list 3 positions Angelo has struggled to fill sense being here, FS, OT, WR. I agree I wouldn't sign Barnes, but last I checked he had no major back issues. As for Williams who will not last 4 years in the NFL with his back. He will be putting a fused spine under a lot of pressure day in and day out, thats one of the worst things you can do to your back.

Back to Barnes remember this is a guy with a lot of Talent that is a problem case, and a bit lazy, he has been arrested for drunk driving in a school zone while going 101 mph. Sound like anyone you know Bensonsucks?

Hey Randy, does the Steelers have a Warner ,Fitz or Boldin?NO.What where the Steelers big free agent pick ups?The steelers worked with what they have on the roster.This is not Basketball or Baseball you cant just pick up a big names in win games.It about coaching finding players that fit your scheme and work with them.I live in philly and theres no lie that every big player that leaves the eagles and go to another team does nothing on that other team.Trotter,Emons,B.taylor,T.Vincent,H.Douglas,C.Simon,Walker (remember him on the bears),Mike Lewis,Dhani Jones,touchdown freddy,Duce,.........the list goes on.Its all about coaching.

"Please just show us (the ones who will never be happy with Angelo) what HE has done"

Well, what he's done is built a team that has won several division titles and went to one Super Bowl. There are a lot of teams that would kill for that. And as disappointing as last year was, they still had a winning record. I'm not saying Angelo is going to the hall of fame, but I'll give some credit where credit is due. Instead of spending on free agents, Angelo spends the same money resigning his own players, at prices much cheaper than if they became free agents. This has worked for a lot of teams, but flopped last year with Hester, Harris, Vasher, and Tillman all playing like crud. I blame that more on the coaches than I do Angelo.

That being said, I think he really blew it not getting Michael Turner last year, and he better make a serious run at Holt.

BigBear he has won 2 division titles in 6 years, he was GM in name only until Ed died, then he was given full GM powers in 2003, Jauron had them prior to that. The 2006 Super Bowl team had 8 FA starters on Offense and one Hatley hold over, it had two Hatley hold overs on defense, one Jauron hold over, one trade for Goon in which he used Booker a Hatley guy who without he would not have been able to make that trade. When Angelo did spend on free agents, the Bears went to the Super Bowl, when he loads the teams with his guys, they flop. Until Rich McKay showed up in Tampa in 93 as the new GM, Angelo had never known a winning season as the Head of player personel for them. The Bucs tended not to spend on Free Agents before they were sold. Sense he got the fulL GM powers the Bears have only made the playoff's twice in six years, that is not very good by any teams standard. As a Super Bowl contender in 05-06 the Bears should have made the playoffs last year. The big difference from that team and this one is there are fewer FA and more Angelo draft picks.

The Bears and Angelo are not very good at scouting talent or evaluating there players, Angelo prefers to let other teams do that and then tries to sign them. He blew last year when he over paid for everyone but Briggs and the family took away his money.

Creighton said: "Judging by last years pick at OT if they do go after a OT in the early rounds they will look for a guy that is a good pass blocker to play RT, not a run blocker."

Creighton I agree 100%, and you just explained Frank Omiyale and Michael Oher, I'll explain. First off, this is why I feel the Bears are gonna end up playing Frank Omiyale at right tackle. I think the tackle prospects your talking about on the first day is probably Michael Oher, if he falls to #18, the Bears will take him and Omiyale will play guard. Michael Oher is probably why Chicago doesn't know where their gonna play Omiyale at right now. Another reason I think this is what Angelo said after signing Omiyale, Angelo said: "signing Omiyale gives us flexibility in the draft, we don't want to go into the draft fixated on a certain position." Angelo probably ment tackle, and Oher. If Oher drops they can take him, if not, they have Omiyale to play right tackle. The Omiyale signing does give Chicago flexibility going into the draft, they can either take Oher if he drops, or the best player available if Oher does not drop, they won't have to reach for a tackle at #18 because they already have Omiyale to play the position. Just a thought GO BEARS!!

I also give Jerry credit for those items as well, he did good in that, and I agree he blew it on Turner as we coulda used that Forte pick on a Olineman, but my concern lies in the fact he neglected the offense, and we as fans and the team are now suffering for it.
But what is going on when Jerry says that QB is our highest priority and Lovie says different? There is something wrong with that, a gaffe by Angelo for sure, - How can a GM let his Oline get that old and not draft some help for it? or a WR? or let Jones get away? I don't see how he could have been blinded by Ced, or even draft a Ced/Wolf/Peterson and then finally get it right with Forte. Booker? I mean even I knew Booker was too old and yet the Coaching let Bennet rot on the bench, (and Buenning) so now whon really knows what we have, alot of mistakes the last 2 years, - sure figure signing those D was the right thing, and hindsight is 20/20 but alot of those things could have been fixed (Booker, Oline, WR (See Booker))
He should fill holes with Free Agents better than he has and we wouldn't be sitting here arguing this point, - He let that Super Bowl team fall apart w/o upgrading the key positions that got him there. (oline).
Is Angelo good? Yes and by Bears standards he is very good,
Is Angelo very good (NFL)? No, or he wouldnt let the team fall apart after the Super Bowl.


Trade down with who?

Any way you cut it, if Chicago were to trade down for a "1st and 2nd" they would have to trade for 30 and 62 to get value. If they were to trade back into the 2nd round, they would have to get 33,65, 129 and would still be (in theory) shorted.

Now what's it going to be? Are the Titans going to give up their 1st and 2nd round picks to move up 12 spots ... or is it going to be divisional rival Detroit who gives up their 2nd, 3rd, and 5th round picks to move back into the 1st round?

The problems with saying "trade back" is 1) getting actual value for your pick and 2) finding someone who is willing to trade. It's not like #18 is a coveted spot in the draft unless a blue chip commodity starts falling fast. You see, on draft day is when these trades will happen and even then it's a longshot, so basing your entire offseason strategy on "trading back" is galactically stupid.

Still Micheal Turner talks a year later. Turner is a great open space runner but needs space to create big plays. Turner isnt a blocker, he doesnt catch the ball as well as he should or could, and he realy is a 1 dementinal ( i cant spell ) running back. Jerious Norwood realy helped out Turner without Norwood I dont see Turner having the type of season he had last year!

As for Forte he was clearly the best ALLAROUND rookie running back in the NFL! With that said Forte was the best rookie running back last year.

Right now there are fewer teams then more that has a tripple threat at running back.

One other thing about Forte, no one running back since maybe Marshal Faulk has made such a big impact for his team as a rookie. Heck I dont know the percentage of how many plays went through Forte, but I do know he did lead the NFL in that stat.

Please elabrate!

Brando -

I think Turner and Forte are both good, and I didn't see Turner enough last year to debate who is the better back. But if the question is would you rather have Forte or Turner plus a 2nd round draft pick, I'll take Turner and the pick.

Let's ignore the meaningless details and focus on what's important: as Creighton said, two playoff appearances in six seasons is not at all good; it's a little below average. One NFC Championship is good, but the other four seasons have all been busts. Angelo has too many deficiencies to be a good GM, plain and simple. Not being able to adequately evaluate college offensive talent is one of them, and it's getting to the point that I don't know if he can even still evaluate college defensive talent; when was the last time the Bears drafted a really good defensive player? And neglecting the offense for so many years especially the line, which is one of the fundamental parts of the team? No excuse for that, either. And now we have excuses instead of badly needed free agent signings. Whether this is cheapskate ownership, which is almost certainly part of it, or just Angelo being foolish, a good GM would have insisted on at least two or three good free agents to fill some gaping holes.

BigBear maybe I'm missing the big picture or your missing the big picture. Signing Turner would have taken a bunch of cap money away from the Bears for years to come. That said, Hester, Briggs, Urlacher, Harris, exc... Would have not been able to sign contracts to keep them around for years to come.

One Turner was unproven! Never in one year had over a 100 carries. Atlanta hit gold last year with a few unproven players as did the Bears in 06. It happens. Wonderful for Turner and Atlanta. I'm happy for Atlanta and happy that the Bears didn't focus their money last year in ONE player. Instead they made the right moves put their money in their own team witch builds UNITY and continuity.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on March 7, 2009 9:49 AM.

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