Packers could take step back with free agents, coaches leaving

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Packers could take step back with free agents, coaches leaving

The perceived talent gap between the Bears' and Green Bay Packers that was a factor in Jerry Angelos firing could narrow this season, from the Green Bay end.

Free agency typically takes a toll on successful teams. The Packers loss of defensive end Cullen Jenkins to the Philadelphia Eagles was a major setback to a Packer defense that lamented its lack of pass rush after the playoff loss to the New York Giants.

Other problems could be looming.

Longtime pal and Packers' beat guy Tom Silverstein up at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that moving Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Woodson to safety cant be ruled out, a step thats being considered because of problems in the Green Bay secondary.

(Of course, for those worried about Charles Tillmans productive time being at an end at age 31, its worth a chuckle to note that Woodson will be 37 next season.)

Spoon also has an intriguing blog post on the prospect of Jenkins again being back on the market if the Eagles' elect not to pay a 5 million roster bonus at the outset of free agency.

Jenkins was No. 2 on the Bears' target list for the defensive line last off-season, behind only Baltimores Haloti Ngata (subsequently franchise-tagged). He could represent an upgrade at defensive end in Chicago while pre-empting the Packers' from bringing back a solid edge player.

But theres more.

Green Bay coaches are on the candidates list for positions elsewhere. Linebackers coach Winston Moss is on the Oakland head-coaching list of GM Reggie McKenzie and offensive coordinator Joe Philbin and defensive coordinator Dom Capers are also considered prospects there. Philbin is in the discussion for the Miami head-coaching job.

Thats three top assistants in play out of town. No assurance that they leave, but there are two chances (Miami, Oakland) of it.

More important, tight-end Jermichael Finley is an unrestricted free agent. So is Pro Bowl center Scott Wells. Left tackle Chad Clifton battled injuries and will be 36 just to name a few.

And chances of the Packers' retaining backup quarterback Matt Flynn are shaky, since it likely would require use of the franchise tag, and do they really want to pay a backup 14 million?

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Bears' Josh Sitton finds fourth Pro Bowl most meaningful yet

Sometimes the passage of time makes things a little sweeter.
 
Josh Sitton had been selected to three Pro Bowls while a member of the Green Bay Packers. At the end of training camp last year, the Packers abruptly released Sitton.
 
On Monday, Sitton was named to his fourth Pro Bowl, replacing former Green Bay teammate T.J. Lang. At age 30, this Pro Bowl was special.
 
"It's a great honor, always a goal of mine every year," Sitton said via conference call. "It's an honor to me and to the guys I play with, the guys helping me along...
 
"I would say just the age thing, the older you get, the more you appreciate them. You can't play at a high level in this game so the whole age thing makes it even more special."

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
 
When the Bears were forced to go into Week 1 of the 2015 season with a shuffled offensive line, the situation wasn't ideal; Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long moving to right tackle as a hurried fill when neither Charles Leno nor Jordan Mills were an answer.
 
The 2016 season also began with an unexpected and significant shuffle, but this time with one that immediately bumped up the quality of the line. GM Ryan Pace moved quickly to sign Sitton after his release by the Green Bay Packers, a step that bumped rookie Cody Whitehair from guard to center, where he earned All-Rookie honors from the Pro Football Writers Association of America.
 
"It was challenging for sure," Sitton said. "It was something I haven't had to do for quite some time but it was stimulating being thrown in and needing to learn the offense in four or five days."
 
Sitton, who signed a three-year contract worth as much as $21 million with $10 million guaranteed, joins rookie running back Jordan Howard as the two Bears scheduled to play in the Pro Bowl. He started 12 of 13 games in 2016, missing time with an ankle injury but being a strong presence in a line that ranked No. 8 in sack percentage while getting Howard to a franchise-record 1,313 rushing yards even with a rookie center and a group that never played a game together before Week 1 in Houston against the Texans.
 
"I think we can only get better, now that we'll have an offseason together," Sitton said. "We'll see what we can do."