Need No. 12--Center
Players on roster
C Olin Kreutz (signed through 2010)
G/C Josh Beekman (2010)
The 12-year veteran Kreutz has not been voted to the Pro Bowl since the 2006 season when he was named first team All-Pro. He will turn 32 in June and has a lot of mileage on him having started 102 consecutive games. He's missed just one game since 2001. Kreutz might not be a dominant player at the position any longer but it will be interesting to see how he looks this season with a new quarterback and new cast around him on the offensive line. There are expected to be three new starters. If Jay Cutler performs well and running back Matt Forte excels, well, reviews of Kreutz's play are obviously going to be favorable. That's how it goes a lot of times for interior linemen.
He still has the quickness to reach the second level and has a strong hand punch but can struggle at times against big nose tackles. The plan is for him to at least finish out his contract so the need isn't very pressing here, especially when you consider the Bears are at least considering Beekman as the eventual replacement. Beekman has some experience playing center at Boston College, has worked in a backup role here already and he's expected to be forced out at left guard by Frank Omiyale. Kreutz remains a leader on the line and in the locker room. The question will be what to do when he's done. Carrying a backup center isn't the easiest thing to do when it comes to roster flexibility. Teams like to have a swing tackle and a reserve guard who also has the ability to play center in a pinch. Not only can Beekman fill that role, so can Dan Buenning, who got work at center in practice for a good part of last season. This is Buenning's first offseason with the club and it will be interesting to see how backup time is divided at center. The guess is Beekman gets a lot of it but we'll see.
Who the Bears have been looking at
We have not identified any players the Bears have been keeping tabs on at this position. Finding a young tackle and perhaps adding a guard likely rank as higher priorities.
Coming Thursday: Fullback.