Opportunity Still Knocking

There's been little news coming out of Halas Hall since the team lost out on Antwaan Randle El and Adam Archuleta to the Washington Redskins. There is still time and plenty of money to improve the team before the draft.

UFA TE Jeb Putzier's (Denver) agent Joe Linta told scout.com Wednesday that the New York Jets, Houston Texans, San Francisco 49ers, and Cincinnati Bengals are showing the most interest in his client. Linta added he expects to have a deal completed for Putzier by early next week at the latest.

The Bears are said to have passing interest in Putzier, but with cap space and a starter available the push needs to intensify. He would be an upgrade over current starter Desmond Clark and eliminate tight end as a draft priority.

As a result of not filling any of their holes through free agency, the draft takes on an even greater importance. One area the team is unlikely to rely on the draft to upgrade is quarterback.

Another free agent signal caller became available on Wednesday, when the New Orleans Saints released QB Aaron Brooks. Aside from the Bears, teams that could be interested in bringing him in as a backup are: Oakland Raiders, Atlanta (should they deal Matt Schaub), New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs.

Recently released QB Kerry Collins is going to look for a starting job and would want too much money. Josh McCown remains an option, as does Gus Frerotte.

With each passing day it appears the Bears will address the return game in the draft. The Bears missed out on return specialist Eddie Drummond earlier in the week when he re-signed with the Lions. Now WR/PR Peter Warrick has re-signed with Seattle for a one-year deal reportedly worth $1 million.

There are still capable veterans available in free agency, with the most intriguing names being Tim Dwight and Az-Zahir Hakim. The problem is by the start of next season they will be 31 and 29 respectively. Returners don't get better with age. Losing a step is common and signing either would be a stopgap measure. This is a position that would be best addressed with mid round draft choice.

The free agent market crop of wide receivers has been picked through. Rod Gardner agreed to return to Green Bay, reportedly for a one-year deal. Terrell Owens and Keyshawn Johnson are the big names on the market, but locker room issues and age are major questions.

Scout.com has learned that restricted free agent wide receiver Nate Burleson is visiting with the Seattle Seahawks today, according to Burleson's agent, Ken Sarnoff. Burleson was given a third-round tender of $712,000 by the Vikings.

If the Seahawks sign Burleson to an offer sheet, the Vikings would have seven days to match it or receive a third-round draft pick as compensation. The Bears would be unlikely to give up a draft pick for a wideout, but Burleson did have a 1,000-yard receiving campaign in 2004. He put up most of his numbers with Randy Moss sidelined with an injury.

Burleson, who will turn 25 before the start of the season, saw his production drop by more than half in 2005. Injuries limited him to 12 games and just nine starts. He does have experience as a punt returner.

At this point, Bear fans would seemingly settle for a few players visiting Halas Hall just to know someone was in the building. The team might have the right idea to wait out the market, but the lack of activity is puzzling.


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