Five Free Agents the Bears Should Target

Here are five players that Jerry Angelo and Co. should seriously consider pursuing when free agency officially gets under way Friday. With room under the salary cap, the Bears have money to spend to put the team in position to remain on top of NFC North and take the next step in the postseason.

Angelo has a reported $17 million under the salary cap to work with, but has given the indication that the Bears will not be making any blockbuster moves. He did the same song and dance last year when the team signed WR Muhsin Muhammad to a six-year $30 million deal before the start of free agency.

Who will the Bears target with the signing period scheduled to begin at midnight tonight? Here is a look at five players who could help the team and have a chance at ending up in Chicago:

1. Antwaan Randle El, WR/PR (Pittsburgh Steelers) – The rumors about Randle El coming home have been hot for more than two months. There will be other teams in pursuit of the versatile player the Bears have at the top of their free agent wish list.

The Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals are both interested in Randle El and also have the cap space to make him a strong offer. The Pittsburgh Steelers appear to have accepted Randle El is likely to land elsewhere.

The Bears have a need for speed on offense and Randle El brings it at receiver. He can also boost a punt return game that is in serious need of an upgrade.

Angelo will not jeopardize the team's good cap status on Randle El, so his coming to Chicago will hinge on another team making a ridiculous offer the Bears aren't willing to match. That could happen considering the weak free agent and draft classes at the position.

2. Jeb Putzier, TE (Denver Broncos) – Putzier isn't a spectacular tight end, but he's an upgrade over anything the Bears currently have on the roster. He's caught 73 passes the last two years, which is only 19 less than Desmond Clark has in three seasons in Chicago.

The Bears would prefer not to use a first round pick on a tight end. Signing Putzier gives the team options heading into the draft to go after a cornerback and offensive line help.

While Putzier's blocking is a concern, having him paired with Clark would give the Bears a solid one-two punch at the position. Unrestricted free agent John Gilmore could be brought back on the cheap to block.

3. Adam Archuleta, S (St. Louis Rams) – Archuleta enjoyed his best years with Lovie Smith as his defensive coordinator. Rejoining the two could rejuvenate his career and give the Bears depth at safety they suddenly lack.

Mike Brown is a great player and a leader when he's on the field, but injuries have forced him to miss 18 games over the last two seasons. Chris Harris surprised everyone by starting 13 games as a rookie. Behind the starting duo are backups Todd Johnson, Brandon McGowan and Mike Green.

McGowan is coming off a knee injury, while Green could be cut in the off-season. Although Archuleta is going to want to start, he could see the opportunity in Chicago to compete for a job.

4. Eddie Drummond, KR-PR (Detroit Lions) – Drummond was hampered by injuries in 2005 and slipped from 26.6 yards to 22.0 on kick returns, and from 13.2 to 6.0 yards on punt returns.

Drummond is still just one season removed from being elected to the Pro Bowl as a returner. The Bears would benefit from him being able to fill both roles on game day.

At 26, Drummond is a player who can continue to improve as opposed to Jerry Azumah, who appears to have lost a step due to injuries.

With plenty of talent at receiver, the Lions never utilized Drummond in that capacity. He has just 2 career receptions, but could be implemented more in the passing game with the Bears.

5. Tommy Polley, LB (Baltimore Ravens) – Another player who enjoyed success with Smith as his defensive coordinator. The Bears need depth at linebacker and Polley has started 65 games over his five-year career.

At worst, Polley would be a reasonably priced backup with experience. In the Bears system, he could play on the weak or strong side and possibly push Hunter Hillenmeyer for a starting job.


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