Bargain Shopping

The trade of former first-round pick Jamal Reynolds to the Indianapolis was voided last week when he failed his Colts physical. Shortly after the Packers waived Reynolds leaving him free to sign with any team, which is something Green Bay tried to avoid.

The Packers wanted to dump the 10th overall choice in the 2001 draft, but Green Bay didn't want Jamal Reynolds to land back in the division. It appeared a trade to Indianapolis assured the Packers Reynolds wouldn't come back to bite them by going to a rival team.

However when the Colts didn't like left knee and back issues, they decided to void the trade. A surprising move considering his brother, Diron, is the Colts' defensive quality-control coach.

That meant Reynolds was shipped back to the Packers. Coach/general manager Mike Sherman then released Reynolds, officially cutting ties with the defensive end.

At 260 pounds Reynolds has 4.65 speed and is the prototypical speed rusher in the cover 2 scheme, a defense Tony Dungy taught Lovie Smith to run. A speed rusher off the edge is an important piece to putting pressure on the quarterback and in turn forcing quick decisions that lead to turnovers.

The Packers knew the Bears would pursue Reynolds, who was to be due a roster bonus of $217,250. So instead of seeing a bust revive his career with a bitter rival, Green Bay traded Reynolds to the Colts for a conditional draft pick.

With Reynolds now on the open market the Bears may still consider going after him despite the health issues.

With about a $1 million in cap space the Bears have had enough money to sign Reynolds to short term deal. Chicago could use additional depth on the defensive line behind starters Alex Brown and Michael Haynes.

The final two years of Reynolds' rookie contract calls for him to earn base salaries of $450,000 in 2004 and $500,000 in 2005. If the Bears fail to claim him they could also workout a new deal with Reynolds that is driven by incentives.

In three seasons, Reynolds finished with three sacks in 390 snaps, six knockdowns, 11 solo tackles and 1/2 tackle for loss. His first two years were slowed by a knee injury and subsequent surgery during his rookie season. He allegedly was healthy last season but played in just five regular-season games and one postseason game and never laid a finger on a quarterback.

Reynolds is too small to hold up against the run and never found a way to defeat tackles as a designated pass rusher. Still at 25, a change of scenery and working solely as a situational pass rusher he could find his niche.

Not to mention the added motivation of being able to go up against Green Bay twice a year.


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