Chicago Sun-Times

Safety update

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Many of you are now blowing up my email, wondering when and how the Bears are going to address the safety position.

To you I say this: chill out.

The Bears addressed one of the toughest positions by securing Julius Peppers. The reality is, unlike some other positions, elite pass rushers who still produce in spite of double teams are sort of hard to find.

The Bears also got new offensive coordinator Mike Martz a new toy in running back Chester Taylor and a safety blanket in tight end Brandon Manumaleuna.

Without a first and second round pick, I think the Bears realized they could only upgrade at defensive end through unrestricted free agency. But it is possible to unearth some gems at safety and guard with a third- or fourth-round pick.

In addition, the market for guards and safeties isn't anything like that of quarterbacks, receivers, cornerbacks and pass rushers, with the exception of a guy like Antrel Rolle, who was released on Friday.

There are some quality safeties available now. But I suspect teams, including the Bears, are waiting for the market to fall. Players -- and agents -- often over inflate the market.

Ryan Clark (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Sean Jones (Philadelphia Eagles) are among the top unrestricted free agent safeties. Antoine Bethea (Indianapolis Colts) is clearly the top restricted free agent. The was a post on Pro Football Talk that there seems to be a buzz about Gerald Sensabaugh (Dallas Cowboys), who is also a restricted free agent.

I fully expect clubs are going to draw up some offer sheets for restricted free agent safeties, at some point.

I can assure you the Bears have placed a value on certain players they think fit their system. But, unlike Peppers, there isn't a guy they have to have, so they're going to exercise some patience and try to get a bargain.

UPDATE: Another outside possibility is O.J. Atogwe, of the St. Louis Rams. But Atogwe, who played under the franchise tender at $6.3 million last year, was given the lowest tender this year by the club.


Because Atogwe was among the players who paid the steepest price because of the uncapped year. Normally, the Rams would have had to let him become an unrestricted free agent or franchised him again at 120 percent of his 2009 base salary. But because he has five accrued NFL seasons, Atogwe could again be restricted by the Rams.

By placing the lowest tender on Atogwe, the Rams essentially are encouraging other clubs to help with negotiations and showing him his market value. Meanwhile, the Rams still have the right of first refusal.

Atogwe can talk to other teams about a contract until April 15. If an offer sheet is drawn up, then the Rams would have seven days to match.

That's expected to happen since Atogwe has 19 interceptions and 14 forced fumbles in five NFL seasons.

But, if he doesn't receive any offers, the Rams have until June 1 to increase his tender or else he would be an unrestricted free agent.

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what about Gabril Wilson, I think he could have a nice come back season with the Bears. Anyone agree ?

You forgot Atogwe. Sensabaugh and Clark don't really fit. I Sean Jones could be a sleeper, but with injuries in recent years, and a lack of playing time in Cleveland before going to Philly tells me he is not as good as they thought he would be coming out of Georgia. basically with all 3 you get a lot more hype than actual production, as it was with Rolle. Atogwe is clearly the best safety available in my opinion, even before Rolle signed with the Giants. We can get him for a $5-6 mil per year deal, slightly higher than what we offered Taylor, and we should do it as soon as possible before someone else makes him an offer. He wants out of St. Louis because of the franchise situation, so he will take anything that looks good.

As far as the Bears plan, they knew there was basically nothing out there from the offensive line to pick from. They knew that they couldn't afford to use a third round on a DE or RB and get the same level of production they will get from Taylor and Peppers.

They grabbed what they knew they needed, and now need to finish the job. The offensive line needs to be the primary focus of the draft, and they can maybe pick up a safety in the 5th or 6th round. But they need to bring in a player in free agency so they do not have to count on the stiffs they have on the roster to start, or a rookie coming in and being a leader in the secondary. Atogwe is the best fit for our defense, and the Rams likely will not match the offer we make to him, so I say go get him!

Well, Arizona just traded a 4th rounder this year and a 7th next year for Kerry Rhodes, so they didn't miss much in losing Rolle:

Jets | Rhodes traded
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Sat, 06 Mar 2010 16:11:26 -0800

Adam Schefter, of ESPN, reports the New York Jets have traded SS Kerry Rhodes to the Arizona Cardinals for a 2010 fourth-round draft choice and a 2011 seventh-round draft choice.

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That's one more safety out of the mix.

Joe I agree with you completely on Atogwe. I really was hoping the bears would get him last year but st louis franchised him. I think he's the one the bears will target first anyway because he has the rams connection that the bears staff loves so much.

If they can't get atogwe I would love to see the bears get wilson. Wilson was a stud for the NYG who run a very simmilar defense to the bears. He struggled with OAK and MIA because OAK runs mostly man coverage and he played zone in New York, and MIA runs the 3-4 which often requires safties to blitz which also isn't his forte. I think he would have a solid chance of rebounding in chicago. Besides even if he doesn't he'll be better then what we currently have at FS.

At strong safety, enough with afalava bring back the Payne Train. That guy hits like he wants to kill someone which is what our defense needs they need to take the skirts off and play like the bears d of old and have the RBs and WRs soiling themselves because they know even if they win theyre going to have to pay with blood for every yard.

Me thinks Sean Jensen should go back to Minnesota where people don't care if he adds no value and needs an editor to fix his typos. Sean, around here, we actually care about such things. Don't like my comment? To you I say: Chill out.

This columnist should lose his NFL reporting privileges after not knowing that Atogwe was given a low tender that does not require draft pick compensation.

Atogwe is the perfect fit for our "D" - trade Olsen and trade Hester and clear the room - Atogwe could be the best safety in football on a good team.

We can replace Hester with Mike Furrey and we would not lose much. P.S. if you thought Earl Bennett took a while to grasp Turners offense wait till he gets Martz's offense.

I essentially agree with Joe again, except that it is time for Angelo to step up and find us a good safety in the mid rounds.

excuse me a minute:

These are the Chicago freakin Bears Jerry!! You can't call yourself an executive with the Chicago freakin Bears if you can't find us a safety! It flies in the face of the whole tradition of the organization. Ever hear of Fencik or Plank? Nobody spent a one or a two on those guys. They found them down in the draft and developed them. Get on it for crying out loud.!!! We gotta have one, two would be even better.

OK thanks, I've vented.

It's unlikely that Atogwe is going anywhere except back to St. Louis. The Rams are playing it cute. The player won't sign for their price, so they are telling his agent that: "OK dude, go find out his market value." When that happens, a team will make him a reasonable offer, the Rams will just match the offer which will be for a long term contract, and keep him. The rest of the NFL knows this and probably doesn't want to waste their time making him an offer. Usually teams get around this by putting in a "poison pill" offer that would blow up the home team's cap space. Unfortunately for Atogwe, the Rams have plenty of cap space and anyway it's an uncapped year. They aren't vulnerable to a poison pill.

Angelo is smart enough to figure this out, so I don't know if he will play or not. It wouldn't matter if he would just go in the draft and FIND US A SAFETY........sorry thought I had vented.

I think Jerry has to play this game. If you look at where we are weakest, it is now the offensive line. We got a nice boost to the DL, with Peppers, and also Melton and Gilbert in the rotation this year. That's basically 3 new players, and one is a known stud. Taylor is a big upgrade over Kevin Jones, because he's healthy, and is worlds better than Peterson or Wolfe. Manumaleuna is a head scratcher to me. We need to decide what to do with Olsen for it to make sense. My guess is we will be shopping him at the draft once Gresham and Gronkowski are off the board, but we'll see.

I think we need to go Offensive line with our 3rd, 4th, and 5th round pick. We need a guard, a center, and a tackle right now, and I am not comfortable with any of the guys on the roster. If Tice can turn Omiyale into a RT, we only need 2 of those, and we can squeeze in a safety in the middle rounds. If Beekman can be the center of the future, then we can also squeeze in a young running back, or a CB. If Forte doesn't put it back together as a healthy player with a solid complement this year in Taylor, then we need to replace him in 2011.

But that being said, I am not as up on the middle or later round safeties as I was last year. Is there anyone out there who could be as good as Atogwe in a couple of years? If the Rams match the deal, we are back at where we are now, which is no damage done. If they don't, we get one of the better young safeties in the league that knows our system, and can step right in and instantly upgrade our tackling and coverage units.

What about Darren Sharper 14 GP(71 tckl .5 sack 9 int 3 TD and o FF) one of the best out their or Roy Williams 4 GP (28 tckl but a hard hitter) or even have Mike Brown 16 GP (103 tckls 2 sacks 3 INT 0 TD and 0 FF) come back to the team. Brown played all season last year and did a good job. Sharper was on a super bowl team and williams just needs a new team and the hard hitting Bears could use him and they can beome the MONSTERS OF THE MIDWAY again.

The situation where St Louis tendered low leaving this in a matching situation on Atogwe was a colossal mistake for St Louis - a good contract negotiator (Cliff Stein is one of the best), can put together a creative contract with escalators that St Louis would not be able to offered to match (Remember John Tait?).

This is kind of sports 101 there Sean - lets pick it up a lil!

Joe maybe they should go O-line like that, but there is no way that they will. You are going to see O-line somewhere in rounds 3-5 and then they are going to really hit the UFA market. Round 7 is a wild card and could be anything, including O-line again.

The type lineman they draft will tell you what they plan for Omiyale. My guess, and it's only a guess, is that they are going for a right tackle in the draft and leave Franky at LG. I'm taking the over on the chance that some young guy already on the roster emerges in training camp to make a push for the LG or RT position.

I don't know who the diamond in the rough prospect is at safety. That's the point. It's not really about measureables at that position, it' about football instincts. Atogwe was a third round pick. Bethea was a sixth rounder. FIND ONE Jerry!

I agrre that this draft has to focus on the O line. I hope Omiyale can be an effective RT. If so, there is a great chance that a G can be found in the 3rd. I doubt the St Louis FR can be pried out of there. try for him I guess but someone like ryan Clark might be a better bet given the circumstances. Adding that big TE is a reflection of how Martz sees the offense. The TE is essentially an extra tackle so the QB can take deep drops. If Olsen could yield us a number 1 wideout or a late first early 2nd draft pick I would do that too. I would keep Hester but make KRs his primary job again.

No team is not vulnerable to a poison pill,You can't give people $50 million bonuses. I say we make an offer to St.Louis with a poison pill inserted.

Bob the league frowns on the Whole Poison Pill thing. However their is no point in jummping after Atogwe just yet, the Rams can't afford him. I believe if they do Tennder him it has to be 110 percent of his last years salary. They are going to have to cut him, they are hoping a team comes in and lowballs him so they can match.

Bears have no shot at Antoine Bethea because they don't have a pick to offer.

Joe not sure why you think Ryan Clark doesn't fit. He plays Man and Cover 2 just like the Bears do.

i would like to see the bears go after bryant they could use a wr after they fill the saftey pos.

MS you realize the Rams are broke right? I believe they are still in the middle of selling the team or at least 60 percent of it. The Nfl has not agreed upon the sale yet so they don't have the money to invest right now. The ydon't have a lot of money its one of the reasons they didn't just give him a a contract. By the way you said Jerry was smart enought to find the Bears a safety. Well he has been looking sense he got here, so clearly he isn't.

But he really showed how Smart he was when he signed the best player in FA. Yes he figured out after only a few years, that not only does the D-Line need help but he needs more talented players. Hahahahaha. Hey why do you think he needs more talent on the team so badly? Could it be the great job he has done in the draft? Hahahaha. But hey he was smart enough to figure out Peppers was the best DE in FA, that took some real deep thinking, he even figured out he needed help at DE. Lucky for you MS, you got to see the genius at work. Heehehehehehe.

Hey Ms now I want you to keep this secret. Do you know what Angelo told me the other day? He said Peyton Manning is a real good QB. Swear to god, don't let that get around, we may be able to pick him up sense nobody else knows about him.


give the man a break, Creighton he got us the Top Free Agents for a change....



you make some good points, but it would be a lot easier to take you seriously if you stopped writing things like "since" instead of "sense."

Your secret is safe with me. I think Jerry was talking to that secret friend of yours that nobody else can see. He didn't realize you were listening.

If you would go ahead and just take those little pills a lot of things would make more sense for you.

Means exactly that, and thats why I said `why do you think they are doing that.' Thank YoU MS
The Rams hold the ball.

and cant believe it but I am thinking RT as well. Which....places Omiyale back at OG. Course they could be blowin smoke just like that 30 mil stuff when they leaked they were looking at RT.


Elite u say ? Peppers? he is a play when i wanna play guy.He was elite .He's older slower and i dont aggree wit calling him elite. I personally think it was a horrible move .He has NO work ethic AT ALL.And he needs a push all the time.lovie isnt gonna do it.Marrinelli better push him.And by the way Bears will stink as long as lovie is coach and angelo is gm.

Considering Atogwe's status, I'm not sure what the best strategy is for the Rams or the Bears if they want him, but I guess it could take a while before anything happens, wait and see

So everyone's favorite fire-starter (profootball talk) is saying that the Lions and Bears are the two teams that have expressed interest in Lito Sheppard. This is at least an interesting concept, as Sheppard was way better as a zone corner than in the Jets agressive man scheme. If we bring him in, I can see it going two ways: either we are moving one of the CBs back to free safety (Bowman or Graham perhaps, my money is on Graham), or we want to get rid of Vasher. We can sign Lito for about the same money, considering he is "damaged goods" after a bad showing in New York.

I would be very happy with Bears management if we were to bring in Sheppard AND Otogwe, but if we pick one or the other, I would rather get Atogwe.

Peppers will be a great addition, but the defense's problem the past two years is the secondary. If we don't address this (and I don't have faith in Angelo being able to draft a safety - see Payne, Steltz) the defense will still be between 20 and 25. Atogwe is one of the best safeties in football right now and if we have a shot to get him we have to. Dump Vasher, dump Bullocks, get Atogwe at all costs!

I think the Bears should just sit back and watch what develops with the free agent safeties for awhile. I don't think there are many teams in need of one right now so there isn't much demand. The longer we wait the lower the price will be. And if they don't get one through free agency, how about a guy like Morgan Burnett out of Ga Tech? He seems like he would be a decent pick out of the draft. With 14 INTs in 3 years against teams like VA tech and UNC. He was injured (hamstring) at the combine so he didn't run the 40 or workout, which will drop his draft ranking significantly. I also think that O-linemen will be available in the 4th and 5th rounds that can step in right away. The Bears got a skill position player (Knox) in the fifth round, who made the pro bowl as a rookie. Get'r done Chicago.

I thought Bullocks was only signed for 1 year so do they have to "dump" him? And if worse comes to worse, I think Tillman would be a great Free safety. The Bears have depth at CB.

I think Danieal Manning may be able to find a home after all...

49ers | Singletary appears to be scouting returners
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Sat, 13 Mar 2010 13:21:57 -0800

Matt Maiocco, of The Santa Rosa Press Democrat, reports San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary appears to be spending a lot of time scouting return specialists.

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I think he won't find a better kick returner in the draft than Manning, who is a Pro Bowl caliber return man, and can be had for a 3rd round pick...

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Jensen published on March 6, 2010 4:32 PM.

Forte "excited" about Taylor signing was the previous entry in this blog.

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