Chicago Sun-Times

Bears eyeing Pace as left tackle for this season

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Orlando Pace.jpg

The Bears have action on two fronts as they try to get involved in the Jay Cutler Sweepstakes while also working diligently to sign free-agent offensive tackle Orlando Pace.

The 33-year-old is a seven-time Pro Bowl performer and while he's missed 25 games over the last three seasons because of injury, he was out of only two games last season. Acquiring Pace would instantly give the Bears more freedom at the top of the draft. They could look at a wide receiver, defensive lineman or perhaps even a quarterback. Pace would come in and give the team three tackles and while general manager Jerry Angelo would be wise to look for a developmental tackle, he could wait until the second or third round.

Agent Kennard McGuire said in a text message that Pace's visit to Halas Hall Monday went very well. Pace didn't meet with the offensive coaches, though, as they were out of the building on vacation. He did receive a physical.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the club is seeking to sign Pace and install him immediately at left tackle, a move that would send Chris Williams to right tackle and make the newly signed Kevin Shaffer the swing tackle. Williams, the first-round pick a year ago, has been projected as the starting left tackle. He would have been that last season had he not gone down with a back injury an hour into the second day of training camp.

Making Pace the left tackle makes sense. It's the only spot he has played. Williams is hardly entrenched at this point. Plenty of standout left tackles have started on the right side. Jonathan Ogden spent his first season in Baltimore playing right tackle before becoming the dominant left tackle of his era. Jordan Gross was a right tackle in Carolina before last season. That didn't stop him from landing more than $30 million guaranteed from the Panthers. John Tait played both positions in Kansas City and with the Bears. Fact is, Williams might be more sturdy as a run blocker on the right side. That's at least the take of one pro scout who has written a report on Pace for the last three seasons for his club.

"Orlando still has it pass protection-wise,'' the scout said Wednesday afternoon. ``As far as pass sets and pass blocking, yeah. But his run blocking is declining seriously. He doesn't come off the ball well on runs, he doesn't sustain well. If you wan to just throw the ball, he'll be fine. I gave him a decent grade. I wrote him up again this year for us. I just think his fire is gone. That's what I've seen the last three years.''

Could a change of scenery, a new team and a new setting re-energize him?

"Now that could possibly happen,'' the scout responded. ``Maybe you're on to something there.''

The next question is at what price does Pace come? At the low end of the scale, starting tackles are receiving $5 million per season. That's what John St. Clair asked for when he sent a counterproposal to the Bears back in February. They were not going to pay St. Clair, a one-time understudy to Pace, that kind of money. Although there isn't a big market for Pace right now (Baltimore is the only other team known to be in play), they might have to pay Pace that much. Maybe a little more one league source suggested. He threw out the figure of $25 million over four seasons. Spread the money out and he might not ever hit some of the dough on the back end. If he does, the Bears got more out of him than they probably expected.

Stay tuned.

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I wish I could say this was exciting news (like it would be 5-7 years ago), but the guy is just deteriorating before our eyes.
In my opinion, he isn't strong enough to play right tackle. He isn't quick enough to play left tackle. And he's not able to stay healthy.
By the way, wasn't the knock on Williams that he was more of a pass blocker than a run blocker when he came out of college?

Signing Pace would be the smartest thing Jerry could do all off season!(unless he gets Cutler) A former Buckeye and the pride of Sandusky, Ohio (my hometown,too) GO BEARS!! You won't be sorry!

My God. Another tired old retread. Run blocking seriously declining. Now there's an acquisition for a team which still thinks it gets off the bus running.
Dump Lovie. The coach? who plays NOT to lose.

If Chicago signs Orlando Pace, I can pretty much guarantee the Bears won't draft a tackle until the fourth round at the earliest. Most teams only carry three tackles on their 53 man roster. The Bears would carry Chris Williams, Kevin Shaffer, and Pace. The rookie would then go to the practice squad, and I can't see a 3rd round or higher pick going to the practice squad.

While Im not a fan of the whole stop-gap thing, which this signing would be, it would help in Chris Williams development to start out on the right side to get the speed of the game down. Also, like Brad said, a lot of pretty good left tackles have started out on the right side like Jonathan Ogden and Jordan Gross.

This signing would tell me something else, Chicago really likes a certain player in the first round, probably a defensive player. My guess is still Mississippi defensive tackle Peria Jerry. Jerry would be a great addition for Chicago if they could land him at #18 in the first. Chicago needs a player like Jerry who has the ability to penetrate. And with Peria Jerry having 18 tackles for loss last season in a tough SEC conference proves, he has the ability to penetrate and can create pressure, and Chicago needs this attribute from a defensive lineman. Also, Jerry looked pretty good going against some of the nations best interior linemen at the senior bowl. Jerry would also help pro-long Tommie Harris career, and a rotation of Jerry and Harris would make the Bears a better and more effective defense by simply getting better play from the three technique. We'll see what happens, its certainly gonna be a very interesting month for the Bears GO BEARS!!

Last year: Tait, St. Clair, Williams with Metcalf in a pinch.
This year: Pace, Williams, Shaffer with Omiyale in a pinch.

No Brainer. It's better.

Kevin, you are basically correct about waiting till the 4th or later, but who cares? They can either wait till next year to get a first rounder, or pick up another quality FA.

I keep saying it, and Pace is an early example; there are a LOT of good tackles in the draft this year, as there were last year. Those players are going be drafted with the expectation they will start. The quality of free agent tackles hitting the street is going to go up.

What's going on with Williams?

Moving Williams to RT? Coming out of college he was known for having quick feet and being superb in pass protection, but was never considered a great run blocker. Is the back a continuing problem?

Picking up a OG/OT in Omiyale was good. Picking up a RT/LT in Schaffer was good. If JA has to bring in Pace he probably won't draft OL in the 1st or 2nd again (too many busts). I don't see how you build a championship team with bringing in guys on the backside of their career.

Pace will be a Bear. He needs to get off of the hard artificial turf that they have in St. Louis and Baltimore. Pace and Lovie obviously like each other and Pace will be reborn. Pace is a great pass blocker so this helps the passing attack tremendously. It is ALL good. Now we wait and see just who the hell JA wants in the draft at #18. What mystery this year!

" What's going on with Williams?

Moving Williams to RT? Coming out of college he was known for having quick feet and being superb in pass protection, but was never considered a great run blocker. Is the back a continuing problem?

Picking up a OG/OT in Omiyale was good. Picking up a RT/LT in Schaffer was good. If JA has to bring in Pace he probably won't draft OL in the 1st or 2nd again (too many busts). I don't see how you build a championship team with bringing in guys on the backside of their career "

I don't think it's a question of what's wrong with Willims or Angelo "has" to sign Pace. It's all about depth at a critical position. We had very little depth at OT before Shaffer was added. We had Williams who red-shirted his rookie season basicly and is still and Unknown commidity and Codey Balough, a practice squad player. That's it.... Omiyale was the emergency OT but Angelo brought him in to play Gaurd specificaly.

Adding Shaffer helped but we still would rely on either Balough, Omiyale or a drafted rookie to be the swing tackle. If we sign Pace we would have much better depth and added much needed game experience to the O-line.

Go Bears !!

I don't necessarily like the idea of Pace, but he is a professional pass blocker. Jared Allen abused St. Clair last season, and so did every other solid DE in the league that he matched up against. Pace could at least allow Orton to make a 5 step drop or 7 step drop without worrying about someone on his back. Williams is a better long term solution as long as his back holds up, but he could do well on the right for a season, especially going up against Kampmann and others on the strong side.

As far as later round OTs, maybe they have someone in mind, or they are convinced they can get Loadholt in round 2 (or Herman Johnson later, who many are considering as a RT because he is too tall to play inside). But I agree that there is a specific target with that #18 pick. It could be that the target is a player in the Mile High City, but there is a specific player we are expecting at 18. Jerry tends to do that regardless, but this year even more so.

Pace allowed 2 sacks last year! Are you kidding me. Why is there a debate over this? Pace is a 6'7 monster. People complain about everything. We get mad when the Bears do nothing and then when they are stepping up their efforts people complain. Make up your mind. If there is someone else better let me know.

Moving Willimas to RT is to help increase Pass Protection from that side. I said it awhile ago and have said it all off season the Bears want a more athletic pass oriented line. Signing Pace and moving Williams does this for them. It's the same reason they got Omiyale, he is more athletic than Beekman and a Pass Blocker, Beekman is a run Blocker and not a good Pass Blocker.

I think the Bears are hoping Lang falls to the forth round but may grab him in the third were they have 2 picks, your forgetting the two picks in the third Kevin. Plus until the Cutler thing is over we do not even know if the Bears will have a first this year. If they do get Cutler which is a long shot and they still have there second you can bet it will a WR for there new QB.

Kevin there is one small problem with Jerry, he is only a year younger than Harris who is in his 6th season so in just 5 years he will be 30. So taking him in the first round tends to be a stretch for some teams. Look at Dusty and Harrison, both dropped a little because of there age and character concerns. Harrison was suppose to be a first rounder last year, but durablity, character and age all played factors in him dropping. Dusty is already 28 and was drafted when he was 25. How is that working out for the Bears? Not saying Jerry and Dusty are the same, but with older guys you get less upside or at least thats how scouts veiw it. Remember your talking about a first round pick, not a second or a third. You want to get the most out of that pick. A 25 year old DT is already in his peak so there is less upside and a shorter career to deal with. His test scores are also very low but we all know that means little. Then there is the fact that the Bears have not called him in for a workout. I really don't hink he is on there radar right now. It may change but as Brad has pointed out the Bears like to workout there draft picks. Mostly they have worked out WR and OT's. Remember we don't have Pace yet, which means we still need a OT. A Pass blocking OT by the looks of it. The Bears are also looking heavily at WR's who play Split End. They have not been scouting DT's much at all in comparison. Last year the scouted OT and RB heavily, there first two picks were OT's and RB's. If they bring in Jerry I am sure he will be in play for them if not, I doubt they draft him.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on April 1, 2009 10:34 PM.

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