Buffone's Blog

The Bears are close enough to making a run at the Super Bowl a player or two could put them over the top. While Antwaan Randle El isn't going to come cheap, he is a difference maker.

The Bears have the luxury of returning 21 of 22 starters. If you include Roberto Garza replacing Terrence Metcalf, every starter is signed for 2006. That doesn't mean general manager Jerry Angelo can sit back and not doing anything to improve the team this off-season.

The free agent receiver class is weak, which means the teams that need help at the position will have to overpay. If Randle El comes to Chicago the money is going to be big. Are the Bears willing to give him the type of contract it'll take to get him here?

Considering the window of opportunity for a god team is usually only a few seasons, it's time to strike while the iron is hot. Even though the defense should be the strength of the team, another weapon around Rex Grossman can only help his development.

Randle could be a dangerous No. 2 receiver, but it depends on how you use his talents. He has the ability to break a short pass for a long gain and puts pressure on the defense.

Muhsin Muhammad isn't a guy that can beat you deep. Whether he likes it or not, he's a possession receiver who can make the catch over the middle. He's got to pick up his game, but having a compliment on the other side of the field will make him a better player.

The perfect scenario would be to find a receiver in free agency and then add a tight end on the first day of the draft. The key is to find a wideout on the open market because it will free up options in the first round, similar to how signing Muhammad a year ago allowed the team to select Cedric Benson.

Even with a high price tag, Randle El isn't a number one receiver. That's what you hope Mark Bradley and Bernard Berrian can develop into over the next season or two.

Muhammad will be 33 when the season starts, but should still have some good years left. Adding Randle El to go with a stable of young receivers would stabilize the position for years to come.

An overlooked part of Randle El's game is his punt return ability. The Bears were looking for an answer all season and he would instantly upgrade the special teams.

Being a former quarterback, Randle El is also a threat to pass on occasion. He proved it in the Super Bowl and would bring an added dimension to an offense lacking imagination.

All in all, signing Randle El would guarantee the Bears nothing. However it would send a sign to fans, players and the rest of the league that they're serious about taking the next step. Another winning season followed by postseason success is the only 2006 can be called progress.

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