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If little happens between now and the 2010 draft, the Bears could find that defensive end is more significant to their plans than wide receiver is in this draft.

That is because starter Adewale Ogunleye, Mark Anderson and Israel Idonije are all coming out of contract. Now, Anderson will not be a free agent unless the NFL and the players association can work out an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement. In an uncapped year, which is what the sides are on track for right now, players do not become unrestricted free agents until they have six years of service in. That will be one motivating factor for the players to reach an agreement on some type of extension. In Anderson's case, that means the Bears would control his rights in an uncapped year.

Idonije is a role player right now who has never been more than a spot starter. He's been moved back to end and that should make him better on special teams again. Ogunleye will be 32. The bottom line is the Bears will have all the cap space needed, and then some, to address their own players if they choose to do so. But it's worth wondering if the contract situation will play a factor in decisions made this weekend with the draft.

Need No. 4--Defensive end

Players on roster

DE Alex Brown (signed through 2011)
DE Adewale Ogunleye (2009)
DE Mark Anderson (2009)
DE Israel Idonije (2009)
DE Ervin Baldwin (2011)
DE Joe Clermond (2010)

Need

If the 2010 draft was three days away, you could be looking at the No. 1 need for the club. The plan is for new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli to have a major impact on the players he's inheriting. That won't do the Bears a lot of good if three of the top four ends are elsewhere after this season. Marinelli believes he has a player who is ready to take a big step in Brown, and that would be worth seeing. You could make a case he has been the most consistent player on the defense over the last several seasons, even during the ill-planned 2007 season when Lovie Smith and Bob Babich put Anderson where he was least effective, in the starting lineup. Brown is a solid two-way player and if Marinelli can have an impact on his pass-rushing ability, right end will not be a need spot for another few years. But as Smith says, you can never have enough players who can pressure the quarterback.

The Bears will host defensive end Jamaal Westerman at Halas Hall today on a pre-draft visit.

The Rutgers product is one of the 30 pre-draft visits the team can have. He's an interesting late-round prospect who could also be a priority free-agent type.

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