Which free agents will the Bears try to keep for next season?
BY NEIL HAYES and SEAN JENSEN | Commentary
Thought to be expendable coming into the season, Rashied Davis has proved his worth on special teams. | AP
Which of the following 14 unrestricted free agents will return to the Bears next season and which will wind up with other teams won’t be known for some time because free-agent acquisitions will be on hold until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.
Here’s a thumbnail review of each, gauging their value to the Bears moving forward. A rating of “1” means the team likely has little interest in re-signing the player. A “5” rating means they are likely to do everything possible to re-sign the player.
Anthony Adams: The defensive tackle does the dirty work inside and is part of an underrated unit that has been highly effective this season. Adams is more of a traditional nose tackle and is a good enough player that he will likely explore other options before returning to the Bears. Rating: 4
Josh Bullocks: The reserve defensive back has never challenged for a starting role on defense but has been solid on special teams. The problem is, there are only so many players the Bears can keep solely for special teams. Rating: 1
Desmond Clark: The veteran may be the best all-around tight end on the roster but he never found a home in Mike Martz’s new offense and was inactive for all but five games this season. In this case, it’s not a matter of whether the Bears want Clark back. Why would Clark want to come back to the Bears when he might be able to play elsewhere? Look for him to move on. Rating: 1
Todd Collins: Despite his disastrous start against the Panthers, Collins has remained Jay Cutler’s primary backup because of his consistency in practice. If the Bears decide they still want a veteran backup next season, Collins could return. Rating: 3
Rashied Davis: Some wondered whether Davis would be cut during training camp but he has proven so valuable that he made former third-round pick Juaquin Iglesias expendable. Not only is he a standout special teams performer but a capable receiver who may deserve a bigger role in the offense after catching seven passes for 63 yards against the Packers. Rating: 4
Corey Graham: Many thought the reserve defensive back deserved a Pro Bowl bid after he led the league in special teams tackles. With D.J. Moore taking over at nickelback, Graham doesn’t have much of a role on defense, which may prompt him to look for more playing time with another team. Rating: 5.
Brian Iwuh: The linebacker was signed as a free agent primarily because of his special teams prowess but he has proven to be more than that. He started turning heads with his play on defense during training camp and quickly developed into a solid backup who has filled in capably when Lance Briggs has been injured. Rating: 4
Olin Kreutz: Kreutz is nearing the end but the Bears still need his experience and leadership qualities while their offensive line remains in transition. He may not be the player he was, but with no experienced backup center on the roster, expect Kreutz to return for at least one more year while offensive line coach Mike Tice develops his replacement. Rating: 5
Danieal Manning: Manning has played every position in the secondary during his career but has finally found a home a strong safety, where he has played well this season. He is also one of the league’s top kick returners, making him a versatile, valuable all-around player that the Bears will likely want back even with Major Wright and Chris Harris on the roster. Rating: 4
Brad Maynard: The veteran punter hasn’t had one of his better seasons. At his age (36), that’s a cause for concern. However, he remains the best in the league at dropping punts inside the 20-yard line and he finished strong by averaging 45.5 yards on eight punts against the Packers. He also holds for kicker Robbie Gould, who wants him back. Rating: 2.5
Nick Roach: The former Northwestern standout has been a big reason why the Bears may have the deepest linebacking corps in the league. He has battled injuries this season but plays capably whenever he’s called upon. Rating: 4
Pisa Tinoisamoa: The veteran linebacker has battled injury problems in each of his two seasons but has been effective when he has been healthy enough to play. For the right price, the Bears would likely want Tinoisamoa to return. Rating: 3
Rod Wilson: The backup linebacker was out of football when he was signed to help out on special teams. He’s likely the type of player who would have to earn a roster spot in training camp. Rating: 1
Garrett Wolfe: The former Northern Illinois star has not earned playing time on offense but has been a consistent special teams performer. The hope that he would blossom into a player worthy of a third-round draft pick may be be dwindling. Rating: 1.5