Bulk of Free Agents Likely to Return

The Bears don't have a lot of work to do in terms of re-signing their own players. The majority of the players due to hit the open market are restricted free agents, who are unlikely to garner interest from other clubs.

With restricted free agents the Bears can tender them a one-year offer that would force any team attempting to sign a player to surrender a draft pick.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENT UPDATE: OL Steve Edwards is the most notable restricted free agent. He's started 24 games over the past two seasons and can play four different positions on the offensive line. He will likely go into training camp competing for a starting job at guard.

With the departure of Anthony Thomas, Adrian Peterson is expected to move up the depth chart and backup starting running back Thomas Jones. Peterson has 47 carries in his three-year career, which could lead the team to seek depth via the draft or free agency.

Terrence Metcalf started the final five games this year at left guard. There are some that believe he's a better prospect than Edwards. He's the backup center and can play either guard spot.

UNRESTRICTED FREE-AGENT UPDATE: QB Chad Hutchinson has done enough to deserve a look next season. While starting doesn't seem to be in the cards, he's a definite step up from the backup QB situation the Bears went with at the start of the '04 campaign.

Despite starting just five games, Hutchinson led the club in passing yards (903), completions (92), attempts (161) and touchdowns (4).

Although Jeff George finished the season as the second quarterback on the depth chart, he didn't get on the field for the Bears. He will be 37 heading into next season, yet would be an acceptable third string QB that could step in if necessary.

There's no doubt that George wants to return to Chicago and is willing to accept a supporting role.

RB Anthony Thomas will probably get a chance to start for another team after sitting quietly behind Thomas Jones but performing very well when called upon.

OT Aaron Gibson is likely gone and won't find many suitors at his present weight. He is too heavy and slow.

CB Todd McMillon has been a top special-teams player for the last three years and won't cost much to keep, so he could be back.

MEDICAL WATCH
C Olin Kreutz will have a minor procedure to clean out debris in his left elbow similar to the one he had performed on his right elbow last off-season. DE Adewale Ogunleye has already undergone a procedure on the injured ankle tendon that he played with for most of the season.

Notable Free Agents
R Steve Edwards
U Jeff George
U Aaron Gibson
R John Gilmore
R Bobby Gray
U Chad Hutchinson
U Todd McMillon
R Terrence Metcalf
R Adrian Peterson
U Anthony Thomas

R = Restricted
U = Unrestricted


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