There was a storm a-brewin’ last week and it wasn’t just the one that dumped 6″ on the Chicagoland area. The Bears turned their radar on to target free agency and joined a league-wide spending spree like nothing we’ve seen in the past. The NFL is the hottest sport in America right now with a popularity that not even Justin Beiber or Miley Cyrus could touch. The NFL rakes in upwards of $10 Billion a year and because of that the league can afford to raise the salary cap to new stratospheric heights. The higher salary structure is upwards of $133 Million, which is expected to increase over the next two years to $160 Million. Teams around the league are trying to figure out how they can cut dead weight while bolstering their lineups with bigger, faster, smarter talent.
The Beard have needs and decided to address them immediately. They said au revoir to Julius Peppers, who never lived up to his Louis Vuitton price tag. Peppers was a Bear for four years and recorded 38 sacks, which works out to a respectable 9.5 a year. However in the postseason, which is why the Bears really brought him into town, he didn’t record a sack in the Bears 2010 run to a conference championship game. For the most part his price tag never matched his play, which is textbook underachievement. The other kiss-offs were less significant but equally noteworthy as Hester, Podolish, Bush and Josh McCown will leave town.
The moving-on from these former era players allowed the Bears to address an issue they didn’t last offseason, defense. Last year the Bears sought help on the offensive side of the ball, both by free agency and the draft. They brought in Martellus Bennet and Jermon Bushrod, and in the draft the first-round pick was an offensive lineman in Kyle Long who turned out to be quite the snag at 20.
This year the Bears’ philosophy is to shore up the other side of the line of scrimmage and they’ve gotten off to a great start by adding Lamarr Houston from Oakland who at 26 appears headed for a bright future after being a defensive captain for the Raiders. Houston has played four seasons for Oakland and last year recorded 6 sacks while often being double teamed at the line of scrimmage. In addition to Houston’s 5yr/$35 Million, Ryan Mundy of the Giants and formerly the Steelers signed a two-year deal. The Bears also re-signed DJ Williams at MLB, and plucked a player from the Packers in CB MD Jennings. Jennings of course is best known for his role in the blown call on MNF two-years ago when his interception was ruled a touchdown. Consequently the referees were immediately brought back from a lockout as the call greatly affected the rest of the season for both Seattle and Green Bay.
As many of us expect more moves to come from Phil Emery while free agency moves on, one thing for sure is that the strategy in place at Halas Hall is one that should have a lot of fans extremely excited for the NFL Draft and the start of training camp in July.