The Chicago Bears have a number of needs to address before the 2014 NFL Draft can even come into focus, including free agent possibilities aimed primarily at defensive line and safety.
GM Phil Emery has a number of holes to plug with there being roughly 20 free agents from the 2013 roster. But when it comes to bringing in talent from the outside, Emery has two possible strategies.
The first strategy is "Go for broke".
- If he can land a defensive end in free agency, such as Greg Hardy, then the first round of the draft should be aimed at safety (HaHa Clinton-Dix from Alabama or Calvin Pryor from Louisville).
- If the Bears can land safety Jairus Byrd or T.J. Ward, then the Bears should be looking for an edge rusher in the first round (Stephen Tuitt from Notre Dame or Kony Ealy from Missouri).
This way, he brings in a proven, albeit expensive, option in a major area of need while drafting a future star at the other glaring defensive weakness.
However, with all of the current roster free agents, spending a large amount of money (for example, Byrd has demanded to be the highest paid safety in the NFL) may just not be fiscally responsible.
The second strategy is "Stock up on mid level talent".
The mid level will not be the most popular option, but may make more sense than the big name free agent. If Emery can land a solid safety AND a solid defensive end, then that provides more wiggle room when it comes to draft day.
Some possibilities include:
- Safety Malcolm Jenkins (Saints)- 26 years old - last contract was 5 yr/$19 mil
- Donte Whitner (49ers) - 28 years old - last contract was 3 yr/$11.6 mil
- Bernard Pollard (Titans) - 29 years old - last contract was 1 year/$2 mil
- Defensive end Lamarr Houston (Raiders) - 26 years old - last contract was 4 yr/$4.48 mil
- Willie Young (Lions) - 28 years old - last contract was 1 yr/$1.5 mil
- Tyson Jackson (Chiefs) - 27 years old - last contract was 2 yr/$22 mil
Houston will be looking for a raise on one side and Jackson will have to settle for less money on the other no matter where he signs, but if Emery can land a couple of these players, then it would give him that flexibility to draft the best available defensive player as well as bring back some deserving current Bears (such as Charles Tillman and Corey Wootton)
Regardless of which route Emery take, he has to figure out it soon so he can make the best draft decision come April.