Chicago Sun-Times

13 days to Camp: Top pass rushers come with steep price tag

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Going over the Bears' 80-man roster right now, one position of need really jumps out at you. We're not covering any new ground when we write that they are banking on considerable production from multiple unproven players at wide receiver in 2009. Donald Driver beat us to the punch on that already.

Earl Bennett is a projected starter with zero NFL catches. Rookies Juaquin Iglesias and Johnny Knox are being counted on and the Bears are hoping they don't require a "redshirt year'' that some in the organization say Bennett had. Then you have starter Devin Hester and veteran slot receiver Rashied Davis. Brandon Rideau could also figure in the mix and he has virtually no NFL experience.

But if Lovie Smith could make one personnel move right now, import one player to his roster, would it be a receiver? Maybe. But think back to five years ago when Smith was first on the scene. The Bears went to training camp at Olivet Nazarene University and before they got out of there Smith made up his mind, he needed a pass rusher to make his defense go. We've heard Smith say it every year as the draft approaches, he can never have enough players who can get to the quarterback.

Well, the price for an elite pass rusher just went up. A lot. All of a sudden you've got multiple pass rushers (Dwight Freeney's $72 million contract is standing up just fine) making more money than some top passers, a trend that is sure to change and maybe before the Bears get around to doing a deal for Jay Cutler. Consider the joy among edge rushers this week:

*** Terrell Suggs beat the deadline that comes with the franchise tag to sign a longterm contract in Baltimore. He bagged $63 million over six seasons, the same money Matt Cassel got in Kansas City this week. According to reports, Suggs will receive $38 million guaranteed and his total bonus money in the first two years of the deal is $33.1 million, just shy of the $34 million in bonus money Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning had in his contract.

*** Julius Peppers didn't get that same kind of security in Carolina. Instead, he'll player under the tag this season and what a windfall that will be. Peppers will earn $16.7 million. He's coming off a career-high 14 1/2 sacks and if he can replicate that production at 29, he'll be in line for a major deal or a second franchise tag that would bring him more than $20 million in 2010. If he can prove he's healthy, Shawne Merriman will be angling for a new contract. DeMarcus Ware in Dallas is also in the hunt for new paper.

The Bears answered Smith's wishes for a pass rusher by trading for defensive end Adewale Ogunleye in the 2004 preseason. Ogunleye will be out of contract after this season as will fellow end Mark Anderson, leaving reliable veteran Alex Brown, swing lineman Israel Idonije and rookie Henry Melton in place. The Bears could re-sign Ogunleye, but he will be 32 this season meaning he'll be 33 before he plays his first down under a new contract. He's a solid two-way player but probably not an elite pass rusher at this stage of his career. However, we're not going to bet against him in a contract year.

The bottom line is the Bears, who don't have a first-round pick in the 2010 draft, will probably be looking for a pass rusher in the near future, maybe more than they're searching for a receiver. Remember, general manager Jerry Angelo has rarely used high picks on wideouts. Smith can't have enough quarterback hunters but finding one on the open market will be an expensive proposition.

*** The AccuWeather.com long-range forecast for Bourbonnais on July 30? A high of 77 with a chance of a thunderstorm.

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12 Comments


I don't think bringing in a veteran WR is going to happen at this point. We tried that last year and it was a big failure. At some point you have to let the rookies play and get experience. I think we will be okay at WR. It's the defense that worries me more then the offense.

I certainly agree that premier pass rushers are in demand, and that they should be. I'm not convinced that anyone is worth the kind of money these pros are getting, but Rushers are about as important as passers. Offensive linemen protecting passers from premier rushers are probably next in line to get the big bucks. One wonders how the corresponding higher prices to attend games will impact attenance in this depressed economy.

The Bears most pressing need is a dominant defensive lineman - either at tackle or end. Hopefully Jarron Gilbert can become good or great someday. The vets they have now are unreliable or mediocre.

This article confirms why Lovie has repeatedly said that Rod Marinelli was the best free agent pickup this summer. If Marinelli can live up to his billing as best line coach in the NFL and thus rejuvenate the pass rush, the ENTIRE DEFENSE will get their swagger back, and then watch out NFL, Da Bears are for real!

I think the Bears made the perfect move this offseason bring in Marinelli. Instead of dropping 50 million on one player, they hired one man (who's salary doesn't effect the cap) to make the whole line better. Now the only question is, is Marinelli as good as they say he is? So far the players and coaches say yes. The rest of us will have to wait for the season to find out.

So, here's a toast to Rod, (who next to Cutler is) the most important man in Chicago right now.

Both Adewale Ogunleye and Mark Anderson have proved in the past they have what it takes to get to the quarterback from their defensive end positions. Also, at defensive tackle, Tommie Harris has been among the league leaders in sacks from his defensive tackle position. So the talent is there, hopefully new line coach Rod Marinelli can get these guy's back up to par.

I realize Marinelli, as a coach, won't make these guy's into the second coming of Bruce Smith, but hopefully he can get the most out of these guy's. And again, Ogunleye & Anderson have proved in the past they can get to the quarterback, Marinelli's job will be to get them back to rushing the quarterback on a consistent basis. It's also gonna be interesting to see Marinelli work with some of the younger linemen like Marcus Harrison, Jarron Gilbert, and Henery Melton. Heck, even some of the practice squad guy's who I think have some upside like Ervin Baldwin and Matt Toeania. The front four is gonna be key for Chicago if they want to have any kind of success this season, so Marinelli is gonna be a major factor GO BEARS!!

The pass rush is paramount to the defenses success. No Question a fact.

The Bears this year are in OK shape with two, Goon and Anderson as two that will be looking for free agent gold next year. This will mean that most likely they will do better this year than in the past (a sad but true reality of the NFL).

With the said, the Bears will have a year to get the Melton and GIlbert project up and going. In addition they may re-negotiate and sign either Anderson or Goon to an extended contract to stay.

Ogunleye, seems to be a little too old but Anderson has some speed and strength, maybe Marinelli can help him become special? But, the desire to be a champion and the best has to be in his heart, we will see.

Worst case scenario we lose both next year in free agency and the Bears are faced with again picking DL early and often despite not having a pick in the first round. Never say never, since Richard Dent was picked in the seventh round and he turned out pretty darn good.

By Kevin Armstead on July 18, 2009 1:50 PM
"Both Adewale Ogunleye and Mark Anderson have proved in the past they have what it takes to get to the quarterback from their defensive end positions."

Bruce Smith and Richard Dent got to the QB in the past as well but I still would not sign either of them. Goon has always had a lot of help getting to the QB, he played on some really great Miami defenses, and as Harris has declined and pulled fewer double teams you watched how effective Goon has become. Which is to say not very effective. Anderson is a one year wonder, he is undersized, lacks strength, can't play the run, and his only move is to the outside. Teams figured him out and he has been worthless sense then. Anderson was a workout warrior with not a lot of football skill. Playing on third down passing situations, and on a stronger healthier D-line helped mask him in 2006.

Goon has the best chance to improve this year over last, mostly because last year was so bad for him and he has a quick first step and multiple moves. However Goon has become more of a liability against the run, he is very small for a LDE, and not very strong. He has also lost a step with age. Brown is what he is and has always gotten the most out of his ability, I do not think Rod will help to improve him much as Brown has always been one of the smartest players on the team. Harris is degenerating, Anderson is just not very good, the hope for the D-line is going to have to be for a Rookie or second year player to step in and step up. Maybe Harrison has a big year or Gilbert comes in and explodes off the ball. I really don't see a ton of help for this line though. They have gotten worse 2 years in a row, they have gotten older, their best player is falling apart, and the line has not changed at all from last year. Starters, Goon, Brown, Harris, at DT it can be anyone of the same three players as last year. Adams will probably be a backup again because he does not fit the scheme which leaves Dust and Harrison. Don't be surprised if you see Dusty start the season at DT.

Position coaches do not make players that much better, if they did their would be a massive demand for them and teams would not be dropping tons of money on FA's. If the Bears are happy with their line they would not have used two of their first three picks on the D-Line.

I still can't believe we let Mike Brown go.

Unless that front 4 gets significant pressure we won't be able to stop the pass or the run (now that we don't have a beast of a strong safety against the run).

That is the worst move since trading our number 1 draft pick (number 9 overall?) to Seattle for Rick Mirer. Maybe worse. The number 1 draft pick is guaranteed to be a great player.

Mike Brown was more important when healthy to our defense than Brian Urlacher. Just watch the film.

Sorry just can't let it go.

By Mateo on July 18, 2009 1:50 PM
"This article confirms why Lovie has repeatedly said that Rod Marinelli was the best free agent pickup this summer."

It does? Really? I would love to know where exactly it "confirms" any of what you said because looking at Brad's summary, "The bottom line is the Bears, who don't have a first-round pick in the 2010 draft, will probably be looking for a pass rusher in the near future, maybe more than they're searching for a receiver." I fail to see any of the things you are talking about.

It's obvious you're willing to annoint Marinelli as the "best line coach in the NFL." But like Creighton said, if Marinelli is such a wonderful defensive line coach, why did only three NFL teams care to take a look at him? And why aren't any teams currently harrasing the Bears management with trade offers for the man who can turn any defensive line into a squad of elite pass rushers?

Let's stop chugging the kool-aid, Mateo. Even Armstead is being realistic.

By Kevin BUMstead on July 18, 2009 1:50 PM
"Both Adewale Ogunleye and Mark Anderson have proved in the past they have what it takes to get to the quarterback from their defensive end positions."

ahhh....hey kevin did you say something i dont agre wit???? well is time for me t smack you aroun kevin!!! goon...bworn...anderson...theyare all BUSTS!!! cant you ses itt kevin?? i now sense ia m alwats right ans i only give FACTS!

remember wehn i say teh bears SHOULD HAVE drafted mendenahall insted of forte??? remember wehn i say the colts would have beaten teh bears last season???? remember wehn i told you loosers there was NO WAY CUTLER was cominmg here sense angelo would never get him??? tahts just a small example of how i ALLWYS PRECIDT wahts going to happen sense i am always right ans i only give facts!

in madden i have peppers ans jerod allen on my team. we get plenty of sacks (on rookie mode). why cant teh bears do teh same brrad??? am i tah much smarter then everyone?? i guess so.

but you gays now me old anonymous....jus tryinh to be posative...

ps somtimes i wipe my bum-bum wit the same napking i use to blow my nose....ans sometiemes i do it revers!!

Mike:

Why would I stop chugging the kool-aid when it tastes so good?

Secondly, I didn't anoint Marinelli to anything. As a matter of fact all I did was reference what a breath of fresh air he's been so far to our players and also point out that all of us fans won't know the truth until the season starts.

Look I know I'm an optimist and unrealistic when it comes to My Team, but I enjoy looking at the bright side.

Maybe you should have a little kool-aid this summer too. It's hot outside.

"""Goon has the best chance to improve this year over last, mostly because last year was so bad for him and he has a quick first step and multiple moves. Brown is what he is and has always gotten the most out of his ability, I do not think Rod will help to improve him much as Brown has always been one of the smartest players on the team.""""


Ogunleye:
(16) games, 878 plays, 62 tackles, 5 sacks, 1 INT, 5 passes defensed

Brown:
(16) games, 853 plays, 44 tackles, 6 sacks, 1 INT, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 7 passes defensed


Looking at the stats they seem to both have had a similar seasons. I wouldn't say that Goon had a lowsy year, certainly not what we would want sack wise from but compared to Brown, Goon had an average type season.

Go Bears !!

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on July 18, 2009 6:40 AM.

Bears set to extend agreement with Olivet Nazarene through 2010 was the previous entry in this blog.

12 days to Camp: Pro Bowl WR not needed for Super Bowl winners is the next entry in this blog.

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