New Free Agent Target for the Bears?

The Bears are looking to upgrade at tight end and a thin free agent market at the position got a little deeper on Wednesday. Will the Bears make a play for the best tight end available on the open market?

In a cost cutting move, the Denver Broncos declined to pickup the $1.5 million option on TE Jeb Putzier. He played four seasons with the Broncos after the club selected him in the sixth round of the 2002 draft from Boise State University. In 39 career regular-season games (10 starts), he totaled 77 receptions for 1,087 yards (14.1 avg.) with two touchdowns. The bulk of his production has come over the last two seasons when he caught 36 and 37 balls respectively.

Putzier, 27, has been mentioned within the team meetings. This was an anticipated cut and the Bears could have a serious interest. At this point, his agent has not had any type of contact with the Bears, but he anticipates hearing from most teams with a need at the position.

The 6-foot-4, 256-pounder would be an upgrade at the position over current starter Desmond Clark. Despite playing in the run oriented his blocking is average at best. Still he's a terrific athlete who is a good fit for a West Coast offense. The Bears could easily find a tight end in the draft, but according to personnel people within the organization using a first round selection on the position is a luxury.

Going after Putzier, who is clearly the best tight end on the open market, wouldn't necessarily stop the Bears from making a serious run at Antwaan Randle El. The Bears have room to maneuver as many other teams are being forced to make cuts to get to the projected $94.5 million salary cap. A potential uncapped year in 2007 also gives the Bears additional flexibility to go after players.

Taking care of offensive needs in free agency would be a major victory for the Bears. The team could then focus on other areas in the draft. Cornerback, linebacker and the offensive line all need additional depth.


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