Bears back in the free-agent mix

With the first week of free agency in the books, the Bears have hopped back in the ring. The club is still pursuing LB Mason Foster, while three new players have appeared on the team’s radar.

The Chicago Bears have been interested in Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Mason Foster for quite some time. The team and Foster have been in talks for days but nothing has materialized.

He was originally looking for a deal in the $5 million-per-season range, which may be the sticking point. I’m told that talks are ongoing and that Foster is still very likely to sign with the team, although nothing is imminent.

Three more players have jumped onto the team’s radar: C Samson Satele, C Stefen Wisniewski and NT Ahtyba Rubin.

Wisniewski (6-3, 315) is the top center on the market. The former second-round draft pick spent his first four seasons with the Oakland Raiders, starting all but three contests.

In 2014, he allowed just one quarterback sack and three quarterback hits. In 2013, he didn’t allow a single sack and just two QB hits. That’s a total of one sack and five QB hits allowed the past two years, which is exceptional.

Yet Wisniewski is an even stronger run blocker, making him one of the best all-around centers in the game. He’s only 26-year-old and could easily serve as Chicago’s pivot anchor until 2020.

Wisniewski visited with the Seahawks yesterday and the Patriots are also reportedly interested.

Satele (6-3, 300) has played for three teams during his eight-year career. A 2007 second-round pick of the Miami Dolphins, he played his first two years in Miami. He was traded to Oakland in 2009 and signed with the Colts as a free agent in 2012. He signed a one-year deal with the Dolphins last season.

The 30-year-old had a strong 2014 campaign. Due to injury, Satele replaced Mike Pouncey at center, then remained at the pivot after the return of Pouncey, who was shifted to right guard.

Satele has had an up-and-down career and is, truthfully, an average NFL center. He’s started 114 games in eight seasons. He wouldn’t hurt the Bears, as his veteran leadership has value, but he’s unlikely to provide a large boost in any one area.

The Bears showing interest in Wisniewski and Satele indicates the club’s desire to move on from 36-year-old Roberto Garza, who signed a one-year deal with no guarantees last December.

Also on Chicago’s radar is nose tackle Ahtyba Rubin, who has spent his entire seven-year career with the Browns. Rubin (6-3, 325) has been a full-time starter the past five years. He has just 12.0 career sacks, so he won’t provide much pass rush, but he’s a quality space eater.

Rubin has dealt with ankle and calf injuries of late, forcing him to miss seven games the past three years. When healthy, he’s an experienced 3-4 nose tackle who could immediately upgrade Chicago’s run defense.

The Texans have also showed interest in Rubin.

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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fifth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.

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