I’m still having difficulty figuring out whether Phil Emery is the tortoise or the hare. Maybe he’s a little bit of both. I’ll leave it up to you guys to determine what that animal would look like.
We know what bears look like, even though there’s still some waiting to see what your 2013 Bears will look like.
We’re a week into free agency, and the team’s general manager shot out of the starting block with the signings of his two most important and identified targets in tackle Jermon Bushrod and tight end Martellus Bennett. At their introductory press conference a day later, Emery explained how his spending would have to come to a screeching halt, thanks to the salary cap. Further additions through free agency would come slow, by bits and pieces, not the huge splash made last Tuesday afternoon.
[More on free agency: Bears Pulse rumor mill]
As our John Mullin has written, if there’s truly a desire by the new regime to have Brian Urlacher back in the middle of the defense for a 14th season, there’s now more reason to believe it’ll be closer to the Bears’ desired price. All indications point to Urlacher’s two main alternative landing spots disappearing in Minnesota and Dallas.
But Emery’s patience in filling other needs, in part due to the salary cap restrictions he’s under, hasn’t burned him – yet - in free agency. The market price has now gone down this past week at positions where the club still needs help, and now the patience of those available players could be shrinking as they look to find a new home for the coming season. Emery could very well prefer to fill some of those vacancies through the draft. But if he goes the free agency route, there’s still plenty of veteran help out there.
The Bears still need two starting guards, unless they think James Brown/Gabe Carimi is the answer to one or both. Lance Louis remains out there after a week. So is the New York Jets’ starting tandem of Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson. The Giants’ Kevin Boothe is still available, as is Tennessee’s Deuce Lutui.
Even if Urlacher returns, the Bears still need a starting linebacker after Nick Roach bolted for Oakland. Karlos Dansby is only an option in the middle, but hasn’t found a new home since Miami dumped him. On the outside, new coordinator Mel Tucker is familiar with Daryl Smith, despite missing most of last season with a groin injury. I’m not sure how the Bears felt about Detroit’s Justin Durant, who had his most productive (103 tackles) season last year. Another stopgap could be 32-year-old Nick Barnett, who’s piled up 242 tackles and managed to stay healthy the past two seasons in Buffalo.
[Related: Roach to Raiders leaves LB questions]
And Jason Campbell has plenty of company in the free agent backup quarterback pool. While it appears the newly-free Matt Hasselbeck is bound for Indianapolis to help in the tutorship of Andrew Luck, the homeless also include Kevin Kolb, Josh Johnson, Tyler Thigpen, Josh McCown, Kellen Clemens and…(drumroll, please) Rex Grossman.
To our knowledge, Emery hasn’t pushed the “restructure” button on some of the veterans he can turn to for cap relief. Perhaps he still can if he truly feels the need. Maybe he’d like to bite the bullet this season on some of those numbers to make those headaches less severe in the future. The rare times he speaks with the media, Emery is often very detailed. Most of the time, that’s after he’s kept the necessary details to himself until striking – whether that’s quickly or methodically. The latter method hasn’t seemed to hurt him yet.
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