What follows are excerpts from a question and answer session with Bears' general manager Jerry Angelo from the NFL Owners' meetings in New Orleans. The questions were asked by Sean Jensen and Michael Wright of ESPNChicago.com.
Q: HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE PROPOSED NEW RULE THAT WOULD MOVE KICKOFFS TO THE 35-YARD LINE?
"I don't think it's going to negate the kickoff. We're still going to have our returns in Chicago. We've got two seasons. When the weather gets a little cooler, the ball gets a little heavier. I still foresee us getting a lot of returns in the kickoffs.
"We had to adapt. Player safety is our number one concern, it always has been. The Commissioner has said it. We've said it as an organization.
"I don't think it's going to be as big a deal."
Q: ARE YOU FOR OR AGAINST THE RULE?
"Hey, I would definitely elect the rule to stay the way it is. But, given the big picture, we get it, and everyone has to make change, given the big picture."
Q: DO YOU HAVE A VOTE?
"We have a vote, 31 other teams do, too. We'll see tomorrow."
Q: YOU HAVE SHOWN YOU CARE ABOUT PLAYER SAFETY. DO YOU SEE PLAYER SAFETY AS A MAJOR ISSUE?
"We're mindful of the statistics, the results that we gathered through the medical people, on everything. On every part of our game. Quarterback safety, defenseless players. I think the Competition Committee has done a great job of making us aware of everything.
"There's just more research going on, more things we're being made aware of."
Q: IS IT A GOOD DRAFT FOR OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
"You have to play the course, based on what it gives you, and right now, the linemen are good, particularly the defensive linemen. It was good last year, and its good again this year.
"There's a number of offensive linemen. I don't think they're necessarily bell cows, like there are on the defense, but still a good number of quality players.
"The thing that creates the biggest change with this draft is, there are probably four positions we would look at and say, 'It's not up to par,' as normal drafts would give you.
"And that would be the biggest challenge, and how does that affect the draft, as a whole?"
Q: LAST YEAR, YOU GOT MOST COVETED FREE AGENT OUT THERE, WHENEVER FREE AGENCY STARTS, CAN YOU SEE YOURSELF DOING THAT AGAIN?
"Last year was a different situation. Usually, you don't see players of that caliber come on the market place.
"We have a plan, and I think our plan is sound. But, we also, when something presents itself, we want to have the ability to make a move. We're not so much in the cement with anything. I always say this: the cement might have been laid, but it's not dry. So until we know what he prospects are out there... Am I saying that we're going to come out and have a big splash in free agency? No, I'm not saying that. In this type of situation, there are so many players.
"Normally, in free agency, there are a handful of players, then there are maybe two or three people are saying are special and there will probably be a dozen paid like they're special but they're not really special, based on the value of their positions. Last year, we saw a special player who played a special position that fit our scheme. So in our minds, that was the right thing to do.
"Do I see that happening in this free agency market? I don't really see that, at this point. But, again, until we know what's out there for sure... players being released, after teams assess, particularly if it comes after the draft. Just too many moving parts right now."
Q: YOU HAVEN'T HAD A FIRST- OR SECOND-ROUND PICK IN A COUPLE OF YEARS, AND YOU'VE CONSTANTLY HAD TO ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT THOSE. DO YOU FEEL ANY EXTRA PRESSURE?
"They can't beat up on the first round picks for the last couple of years, because of the obvious reason. But, we feel real good. Our formula to draft well is very, very sound. I'm very comfortable with our philosophy and how we look at the draft.
"I wish you could be educated more about the things that we see, that you aren't privileged to see, and how that impacts our evaluations. There are a lot of things that come into affect, with the draft, at least to our standard.
"Picking at 29, it's hard to think, 'We're going to hit a home run at 29.' Very hard to do. And if you try to do it, you may, but if you don't, then what are you left with? And I think that's important, because when we look at any draft, we want to come out with four starters.
"Naturally, you would want to use those first four picks to say that.
"So you want to keep your eye focused on, 'Can you win with the player?'
"Naturally, when you're at the top, you're going to get a player with more glitter to him, and has a pretty good floor, too. But we really want to get a player with the most talent and the best floor."
Q: COULD YOU TALK ABOUT JAY CUTLER'S MECHANICS?
"Anything that he needs to get better at is coachable. It's very coachable. I'd rather have a guy with a lot of talent, that needs some cleaning up, so to speak, then have a guy with picture book mechanics but he doesn't have the talent to do the job.
"Jay has done, and will continue to do everything in his power to be the best he can be. It's important to him. He's got excellent coaching. There are some things all players have to get better at, him included.
"He was in a new system last year, with a lot of new faces, particularly on the offensive line, and we wouldn't have done what we did last year without him."
Q: WHAT DID YOU THINK OF GREG OLSEN'S SEASON?
"He'll be more prominent this year, not that he didn't have a role last year. I thought he did a lot of good things, last year. But I think you'll see a lot more things, more consistently, because of the familiarity that our coaches have with him.
"He wasn't, as everyone said, the perfect fit.
"I know how much talk there was about, 'Does he have a fit at all?' We felt good, because of the fact that we know the person, we know how important football is [to him], and he's got talent, and any good coach or system I've been around always finds a way to accentuate to the best players, and I felt we did that.
"And I expect him to make a big jump as well, next year. No reason to believe he won't.
"And I really thought he improved his overall game, particularly his blocking."