Busy Months Ahead

With the off-season in full swing for 30 of 32 NFL teams, next week's Super Bowl and the Pro Bowl are the only things left on the 2005 docket. Free agency and the draft will dominate the headlines over the next three months. January started with playoff coverage and is closing strong with the Senior Bowl. There's much more news to come at BearReport.com

Bear Report will be at the scouting combine starting February 23 and bring you the latest info from Indianapolis. The following week the ninth annual Fan Convention will give an opportunity to further speculate where the Bears plans lie. The opening ceremonies will coincide with the start of the free agency signing period on March 3rd.

Everyone else is already evaluating their in-house talent and looking outside the organization at both free agency and the draft to shore up problem areas. The Bears coaching staff didn't make the trip to Mobile this week for the Senior Bowl because GM Jerry Angelo preferred the group to breakdown the roster.

This will be a key off-season for Angelo. He has the opportunity to make a few key moves to put the Bears over the top, but letting the team fall back below .500 and out of the playoffs could spell the end to his time in Chicago.

Bear Report will have our own mock draft starting the first week in February and updating it as team needs change, free agency plays itself out and Combine, school-day workouts and individual workout numbers come back favorably or negatively for different players. Like the NFL, it seems that it is never too early to start looking at the future.

Unlike last year's draft – when nobody seemed willing or able to move up in the draft to grab the top picks and pay the money needed to sign them, this year could be much different. It seems clear that USC's Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush and Vince Young of Texas are going to be the top three picks. Those three picks are currently held by the Texans, Saints and Titans – three teams that could surely use those players, but also teams that have a lot of holes. Trading down could be an option for one or all of them.

Once trading starts at the top, anything could happen. The frenzy begins in earnest as teams start targeting individual players and, at pick No. 26, the Bears could be willing to move up and take a chance on a player they covet but may not have a chance to lock down.

In NASCAR, they say "Gentlemen, start your engines." The same is true for the NFL. Once the Super Bowl is done, it's off to the races for 2006 – ready or not.

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