Lovie Smith has a standard answer when it comes to the Bears checking out players on the open market--they're always considering moves to make the team better.
To that end their next move is getting reacquainted with Pisa Tinoisamoa.
While linebacker does not look like a need area, the veteran began his successful career in St. Louis playing for Smith and linebackers coach Bob Babich. The Bears are interested enough to have him in for a visit to Halas Hall Wednesday, according to an NFL source. That trip that coincides with the first OTA of the offseason.
Tinoisamoa was released by the Rams on May 8 despite leading the team in tackles for four of his six seasons, including last year when he had a team-high 135 playing on the weak side. He wasn't deemed to be a fit for new coach Steve Spagnuolo's scheme and St. Louis tried unsuccessfully to trade him.
Tinoisamoa played weak-side linebacker the last few seasons for the Rams but broke into the league as a second-round pick from Hawaii playing on the strong side for Smith. He became the only rookie in franchise history to lead the team in tackles that season. He was moved to the weak side the next season after Smith departed for the Bears, but returned to play the strong side again in 2005.
One reason cited for his departure in St. Louis was his size. Listed at 6-1, 240 pounds, reports stated he played closer to 225 pounds last season. Smith generally looks for undersized linebackers in his scheme, and the addition of Tinoisamoa would create even more competition at strong-side linebacker where Nick Roach is expected to battle Hunter Hillenmeyer for the starting job. Hillenmeyer was the starter for the first seven games before Roach replaced him. Right now, it stands to be one of the few true position battles in training camp. Adding Tinoisamoa would give Smith even more depth at the club's position of strength.
The Buffalo Bills brought in Tinoisamoa for a visit on May 13. They've been kicking the tires of experienced linebackers this offseason, previously checking out Cato June and Freddy Keiaho. It's not known if the team extended a contract offer to Tinoisamoa. What it will take to sign him isn't known at this point but cap space isn't an issue for the Bears. They have $20.8 million in available room.
The Rams didn't do him any favors waiting until after the draft to make the move. He'll probably seek a longterm commitment but could wind up on a short-term deal in order to get back to the marketplace at a more opportune time--the start of free agency. Tinoisamoa signed a $24.7 million, five-year extension in October 2006. He was scheduled to earn $3.25 million this season and that figure might have been prohibitive in the Rams' efforts to find a trading partner.
UPDATE: Tim Graham of ESPN.com reports that Tinoisamoa will also visit Philadelphia. That's interesting because the Rams didn't view him as a fit for their defense and Spagnuolo is running the defense in St. Louis that he learned with the Eagles under Jim Johnson and then took to the New York Giants.