The Bears may not be spending big money in free agency, but at least they are acknowledging that their offensive line needs depth and are reacting accordingly.
Chicago signed one-time Browns tackle Kevin Shaffer to a three-year contract Wednesday, and the former seventh-round draft pick could be in line for a starting assignment right away. General manager Jerry Angelo inked Frank Omiyale to compete at left guard initially, but the coaching staff was forced to move him to right tackle on Day 2 of last week's veteran minicamp once free agent John St. Clair decided to sign with Cleveland. Essentially, the Midway Monsters traded the 31-year-old St. Clair to the Browns for the 28-year-old Shaffer.
Shaffer is a card-carrying University of Tulsa graduate just like head coach Lovie Smith, who always appreciates having another Golden Hurricane at Halas Hall.
Shaffer should compete for the starting job at right tackle. (Kevin Terrell/Getty Images)
Even though the Bears are in desperate need of both linemen and receivers on the offensive side of the ball, Angelo and Co. have only concerned themselves with the big boys in the trenches thus far in free agency. It's understandable that the front office didn't want to overpay for a marquee player like T.J. Houshmandzadeh, but a veteran presence like Torry Holt could do wonders for the passing game and give quarterback Kyle Orton another weapon on the outside. Assuming Orton now has more time to throw in the pocket after the additions of Omiyale and Shaffer, perhaps Devin Hester will have a better chance to develop into the primary target Smith believes he can be.
However, don't scratch tackle prospects Michael Oher of Ole Miss and Eben Britton of Arizona off the team's list of possibilities at No. 18 overall just yet, as Shaffer wasn't deemed good enough to start for the lowly Browns prior to being cut.
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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.