With about four months remaining until the opening of training camp in Bourbonnais, the Bears are sitting in a very good position to perhaps have a much stronger roster than they did at the start of the 2012 season.
Like many teams, they have lost and may continue to lose key veteran contributors, but so far they've been able to fill the holes with more than just adaquate replacements. In many cases, they're adding youth, athletic ability and speed.
The Bears have taken the biggest hits on defense with the losses of Brian Urlacher and Nick Roach. Urlacher's loss might not sit well with fans, but as everybody knows, even Hall of Famers are not immune from being cast aside by the organizations where they became stars. If it can happen to Joe Montana, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning, it can happen to anyone.
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But here's the bright side. The Bears replaced Urlacher with D.J. Williams, a proven veteran who -- despite his off-field problems last season -- makes the Bears' defense more athletic. Williams has been a very productive player and he knows that this may be his last chance to earn one more big pay day in his career. He has incentive to have a great year.
Roach was more valuable than most people gave him credit for, but it could be argued they got a player even a bit better or at least as good. Like Williams, James Anderson has experience with 53 starts under his belt and was valued enough by the Panthers that he was given a 5-year, $22 million deal with $8.5 million guranteed just a couple of years ago. Both of the new linebackers are victims of being cap casualties as opposed to guys that were no longer thought to be of value.
Talent is still needed on the defensive line in the form of another pass rusher. At this point, Israel Idonije's spot is open and that could be an area the Bears address in the draft. The other area on defense that will likely be filled by a free agent veteran is the nickel spot. There are several players out there on the market that should be available as we move deeper into the offseason.
Offensively, the loss of Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth has been bolstered with the additions of tight ends Martellus Bennet and Steve Maneri. Upgrades all around.
Jermon Bushrod has solidified the left tackle spot, which means the big question on the offensive line is at the guard positions. The only players currently on the roster that realistically have a chance to fill those roles are Gabe Carimi and Edwin Williams, but it's likely the next hole that will be addressed. Head coach Marc Trestman is on record saying that J'marcus Webb will go to the right tackle spot, and now with Jonathon Scott re-signed it's likely they will be the two battling at right tackle, under the current scenario. Carimi may get a shot as well, but it's tough to really give a legitimate look to three guys at one position once camp starts.
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Guard Lance Louis is still a wildcard. If the Bears can somehow re-sign him, that would be a big boost to the line and one less position that would need to be dealt with before camp begins. Louis may have a tough time getting the money he is probably worth because of his ACL injury, which is another scenario that could play into the hands of the Bears.
The bottom line is this: the Bears' wish list isn't all that long and they should get most of what they need by the time training camp rolls around.