Free Agency Fix: Pass-Rush Presence

The Chicago Bears aren't going to break the bank for Julius Peppers, no matter how badly they need a pass rusher. Of all the four-star free agents, like Kyle Vanden Bosch, who might be a good fit?

Fans can blame the corners for not proving capable of covering the slant route or the safeties for being careless with their assignments, but the truth is that the Bears have been bad in pass defense lately because of insufficient pressure up front.

Although Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye have been an adequate starting pair on the right and left side, respectively, Brown isn't a pure pass rusher and Ogunleye was never as productive in Chicago as he was in Miami. Brown is signed through 2011 and one of the more respected veterans in the locker room, but Ogunleye is due to leave as a free agent, Mark Anderson will be a restricted free agent himself and the depth chart is still dealing with the tragic offseason death of Gaines Adams. While Anderson figures to return, Ogunleye is all but a goner and the late Adams never got a chance to live up to his potential in the Windy City.

General manager Jerry Angelo can't expect to find an immediate-impact defensive end in the draft since he doesn't have a pick before Round 3, and because handing a blank check to premier free agent Julius Peppers will never happen, a cost-effective veteran may be the way to go:

Kyle Vanden Bosch

A nine-year veteran out of Nebraska, the 6-4, 278-pound Vanden Bosch recorded 45 total tackles, 3.0 sacks and two forced fumbles in 16 games for the Titans in 2009.

A two-time Pro Bowler in Tennessee, Vanden Bosch's agent had to come out publicly and squelch rumors that his client would be retiring, although the former Cornhusker is coming off his least productive campaign since fleeing the Cardinals for the Titans in 2005. Like Brown, he has lined up mostly on the right side, but his days of double-digit sacks look to be clearly in the rearview mirror at just 31 years of age.

If the Bears simply want to replace Ogunleye on the left side and still use Anderson on passing downs, perhaps Vanden Bosch can be a one-year stopgap before younger options like Jarron Gilbert and Henry Melton are ready to become starters.


DE Aaron Kampman
AP Images: Amy Sancetta

Aaron Kampman

An eight-year veteran out of Iowa, the 6-4, 265-pound Kampman recorded 42 total tackles, 3.5 sacks and one forced fumble in nine games for the Packers in 2009.

One of the few defenders not to benefit from Green Bay's flip-flop from the 4-3 last season to the 3-4 this season, Kampman didn't get to put his hand on the ground as a pass rusher very often and was never a qualified candidate for dropping into coverage as an outside linebacker. After back-to-back Pro Bowls in 2007-08, racking up 27.5 sacks along the way, the former Hawkeye no longer fits into the Pack's future because of all the young linebackers on the roster.

Complicating matters is the torn ACL and subsequent knee surgery he underwent on Dec. 4, although most of Kampman's sacks were the result of blood-and-guts effort, not flat-out speed.

Jarvis Green

An eight-year veteran out of LSU, the 6-3, 285-pound Green recorded 36 total tackles and 1.0 sack in 13 games for the Patriots in 2009.

Overshadowed along the New England defensive line for most of his career by the likes of Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork, Green might end up being a better player at left end in a 4-3 than at right end in a 3-4, as he was playing most of this year for coach Bill Belichick. Definitely a durable player since he came into the league as a fourth-round pick, the former Tiger has never missed more than three games in any season and suited up for 121 of 128 contests from 2002-09.

However, if Chicago is looking for a pure pass rusher ready to step in and ramp up the sack volume right away, it wouldn't make any sense to target Green.

Conclusion: While the Bears would be rolling the dice if they brought in Kampman coming off the injury he sustained at the season's midpoint, he may be extra motivated to stick it to the Packers once he gets back home at defensive end.


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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.


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