Free agency has OT options for Bears when the time comes

Free agency has OT options for Bears when the time comes
January 8, 2013, 3:29 am

A number of decisions are on GM Phil Emerys desk as far as Bears free agents to be pursued and re-signed this offseason. Several are franchise-level choices with six 12 starters unrestricted: guards Lance Louis and Chris Spencer, linebackers Nick Roach and Brian Urlacher, tackle Jonathan Scott and defensive tackle Henry Melton.

But what happens with certain other teams free agents on or before the Mar. 12 start of free agency projects to be potentially every bit as significant for the Bears as what they do with some of their own.

Many of the decisions obviously will be made with a new coach in place, both on Bears free agents and other teams.

The priority area is expected to be the offensive line. The draft is one option, where ESPN draft guru said are likely to be three left tackles and two RTs going in the first round.

Of more immediate impact, however, given that rookie tackles drafted around No. 20 where the Bears currently stand, arent always first-year difference makers, is what the unrestricted free agent market may hold.

And if the new coach someone like Houstons Rick Dennison or Denvers Mike McCoy is a zone-blocking proponent, not every lineman is an automatic fit.

Stat analysts at ProFootballFocus.com have an extensive list of the pending free-agent tackles that includes their in-depth rating, and there project to be some elites available for the Bears. The top five out of contracts:

Ryan Clady, Denver Broncos - Handles Peyton Mannings blind side in an offensive run by McCoy.

Gosder Cherilus, Detroit Lions - A right tackle but played well enough that No. 1 pick Riley Reiff couldnt beat him out. And it takes something away from a division rival.

Will Beatty, N.Y. Giants - Fourth-rated LT who came back strong after missing time with a detached retina in 2011.

Brandon Albert, Kansas City Chiefs - Emery didnt draft him in Kansas City but familiarity counts if the talent and personality are fits.

Sebastian Vollmer, New England Patriots - Another RT but a linchpin of the line that protects Tom Brady and is responsible for the rushers coming in Bradys face.

Emery expressed satisfaction with what the Bears got from Scott at right tackle. The evaluations of Scott, JMarcus Webb and Gabe Carimi will determine the push for whom or how many but at least the market in 13 already projects as better than either of the past two offseasons.