Busy week ahead

With free agency two days away there are several topics surrounding the Bears including the release of three veterans and the desire to go after the best pass rusher on the open market.

It seems the release of Phillip Daniels and Warrick Holdman is imminent.

"I was sad for a little while that it didn't work out here,'' Holdman told the Chicago Sun-Times. "But after two days, that was gone. I need to find some new surroundings, and I have to go somewhere else and prove the Bears are making a mistake.

"I've talked to a few of the guys, and they've all wished me luck. We're going to remain friends, and I'm grateful for what the Bears have done for me.''

The veterans have to be released by Tuesday or the Bears must pay them roster bonuses of $2.4 million to Holdman and $1 million to Daniels.

Lovie Smith went out of his way to mention the fact that he thinks Joe Odom is ready to be an every down contributor. Odom started three games during his rookie campaign when Holdman was out with an ankle injury. However Odom finished the year on Injured Reserve with a groin injury.

With the imminent release of Kordell Stewart the Bears will clear about $7 million in cap space when they cut ties with the quarterback, Daniels and Holdman. The move would give the Bears $16-18 million to work with in free agency, which would center on improving the defensive line and adding a pass catching running back.

Jevon Kearse is the top name on the market and Angelo made vague references to going after the end, but was prohibited from mentioning him by name under league policy until free agency officially begins on Wednesday.

"I've said from the onset that we want to get more firepower," Angelo said. "That starts on offense. We'll be looking at some offensive players. There will be a few defensive players, too — maybe one on the defensive line, in particular, if he becomes available."

Marc Colombo tried to defuse the rumors that he might have to retire, but Angelo reiterated the fact that the team is not counting on his services this year.

Rex Tucker said he would be ready to go for the mini-camp that starts on March 26. He has missed the last 27 games the Bears have played because of injury. Tucker will slide back into the starting lineup at left guard.

The question is who will be on the right side. The Bears are continuing talks with Chris Villarrial, but he will test the open market. If Villarrial leaves then Terrence Metcalf and Mike Gandy would be the top options to replace the longest tenured Bear.

However Gandy is a restricted free agent and could receive some interest in free agency. Gandy admitted he's unsure if his future with the Bears would be at left tackle or move to his more natural position of guard.

During the fan convention Team President and CEO Ted Phillips revealed that the Bears are in contention to kickoff the NFL season on Thursday, September 9 at Soldier Field.

"I think we have got a 50-50 chance of getting that game," Phillips said. "It would be a great way to showcase the city and the organization."

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