The Bears have been aggressive in free agency the past two years. With a good cap situation the team should be active again this off-season.
Even after signing Terrence Metcalf
to a six-year deal, the Bears are about $15 million under the salary cap. However, general manager Jerry Angelo said he doesn't plan to make an immediate splash in free agency.
"Before you jump the gun or before you get out there, you want to make sure you know what the market place really is," Angelo said.
Still with money to be players in free agency, the team has needs to address such as speed at wideout, depth in the secondary and a veteran quarterback.
Here's a look at the players due to hit some form of free agency.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTSCB Jerry Azumah doesn't appear to be part of the Bears' future. He has
a chronic arthritic hip and has lost a step in coverage and as a kickoff
returner, where he was a Pro Bowl player in 2003.
QB Jeff Blake didn't get to play much, but when he did he showed a live
arm and feet. If he is content to be the No. 3 guy, he seems ideal for the
TE John Gilmore is a big enough body to be an effective on-line
blocker, but he has never been much of a factor in the passing game.
S Bobby Gray never played last season because of a knee injury, but
before that he was a physical in-the-box presence who wasn't used much in
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTSLB Hunter Hillenmeyer had his best season and started 12 of the first
13 games, including one after suffering a broken thumb. He comes out in
passing situations but is clearly better than any of the Bears' backups and
is expected to be re-signed.
DE Israel Idonije moved ahead of 2003 first-round draft choice Michael Haynes as the No. 3 end partly because he plays special teams and partly
because he is also capable of playing inside at tackle.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTSLB Marcus Reese.
TE Gabe Reid.
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED OR ACQUIRED G Terrence Metcalf started 13 games at right guard, but will go to mini-camp as the backup to Roberto Garza.
T John St. Clair moved ahead of younger challengers to claim the swing tackle spot and started one game on each side. He will play a similar role in 2006.
K Matt Fordyce signed a two-year contract. Fordyce entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Cardinals in 2004. The Fordham University product spent the 2004 and 2005 training camps with the Cardinals.