Can the Bears count on free agency for answers on defense?

Can the Bears count on free agency for answers on defense?
February 27, 2014, 5:30 pm
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Through the season, “3 & Out” was a regular feature for me with Comcast Sportsnet Chicago/CSNChicago.com mates Chris Boden, Jen Lada and Kip Lewis, with the occasional David Kaplan talk-back thrown in. (That was only natural, since Kap is all about back-talk.)

So with the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine behind us, and free agency (Mar. 11) and the draft (May 8) ahead of us, this is the time for a “3 & Out” on the short-term Bears outlook:

[MORE: Can a strong draft fix Bears' entire defense in one year?]

Can the Bears count on free agency for answers on defense?

Not really, certainly not long term. Free agents, including your own, are more expensive than draft choices, and full-blown difference makers are exponentially pricier than draft hits. Henry Melton, for instance, could be brought back but that will likely be on a one-year deal. The price there might be reasonable for 2014 but if he performs at a very high level, his market in 2015 could soar, and the Bears have heavy cap commitments on offense to think about, including Brandon Marshall looking for a new deal beyond 2014.

The Bears went for that major one-piece in Julius Peppers. They don’t have the cap money or roster situation for that kind of bold strike to make sense.