Posted by Matt Clapp | 3/11/2014 01:54:00 PM | D.J. Williams, Dante Rosario, Free Agency, Josh McCown, Julius Peppers, Lamarr Houston, Michael Bush, Phil Emery
With the 2014 NFL free agency ready to kick off, here's some great material to get you ready for the Chicago Bears' free agency...
Report: Bears pushing hard for DE Lamarr Houston- Ian Rapoport tweeted on Monday night that the Bears are targeting Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston in free-agency after losing out on Michael Bennett, who re-signed with the Seahawks. Rapoport said that the Bears are "pushing hard" to sign Houston.
Since then, defensive end Michael Johnson has also agreed to terms on a deal with Lovie Smith and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bennett, Johnson, and Houston have been widely considered the top-three 4-3 defensive ends on the market, so you'd have to think the Bears are indeed pushing hard for his services.
Houston, 26, has never missed a game in four seasons as CSN Chicago points out, after being a second-round pick by the Raiders in 2010. Houston is listed as 6'3", 300 pounds, but plays quicker than his weight would lead you to believe. He can be a 4-3 defensive end, a 3-4 defensive end, and can move inside to defensive tackle (something he would likely do for the Bears in passing situations). Emery covets players that transcend scheme, and that should be the case even more this year with the Bears likely to mix things up schematically.
Houston's six sacks were a career-high in 2013 and a lower number than you'd like when paying a defensive end like a premier player, but the number is misleading when talking about Houston's overall productivity as a pass-rusher. Per Pro Football Focus, Houston had 41 quarterback hurries, tying him for ninth among 4-3 defensive ends (and one more than Michael Johnson, ironically), and 16 quarterback hits, tying him (with Michael Johnson ironically again) for eighth among 4-3 defensive ends. Remember, kids: disruption is production.
And where Houston really is stellar is against the run game (where the Bears were of course historically awful in 2013). Houston's 10.3 run-stop percentage (a PFF signature stat) ranked him first for 4-3 defensive ends in 2013.
So, Houston is a very good all-around defensive end that you can play all over the line, and he still has lots of upside at the young (for a free-agent) age of 26. He would be a great get for the Bears. (CSN Chicago)
Report: Bears attempting to trade DE Julius Peppers- The Bears are trying to trade Julius Peppers rather than outright release him, but finding a trade partner is quite unlikely. He'll almost surely be released, and it will save the Bears $9 million+ in cap space.
The problem of course is then the Bears are in need of two starting defensive ends, and one of them to be able to get to the quarterback from Peppers' right end position, where you're taking on stud left tackles. Phil Emery has quite a task ahead to address this situation. (Scooby Axson; Sports Illustrated)
Bears cut veteran RB Michael Bush- Inevitable given the veteran running back's price tag, and especially with his lack of production at the price over the last two seasons. I've said frequently that I think the situation wasn't all that fair for Bush and his game; he's a rhythm guy that needs repetitions. Understandably it was tough for him to get those carries with Matt Forte as the starting running back. Bush is a bruising back that shouldn't have much trouble landing a new job, as a goal-line/short-yardage specialist at worst.
Releasing Bush saves the Bears $1.85 million in cap space. It will be interesting to see if they attack the running back position in free agency or the draft. If the season began today, 2013 undrafted rookie Michael Ford would be Forte's backup. Ford was very impressive in the 2013 preseason so it wouldn't be a total shock if he ended up as the primary backup, but it's still unlikely. (Larry Mayer; ChicagoBears.Com)
Bears release tight end Dante Rosario- This move was a stunner as the Bears had just re-signed Rosario 11 days before it. Now, to go with a backup running back, the Bears need to add a No. 2 tight end as well. So while the offseason will absolutely be defensively-focused, the Bears will also look for a couple weapons to add on the offense. (Mike Wilkening; Pro Football Talk)
Report: Bears nearing deal with LB D.J. Williams- Phil Emery made it clear that the Bears would like to bring back veteran linebacker D.J. Williams and the rumors are that the two sides are close to a deal. Williams apparently wants a multi-year deal and that's the hold-up for him at the moment, but expect the situation to be resolved soon.
If Williams is indeed back, he will join Lance Briggs, Jon Bostic, Shea McClellin, and Khaseem Greene as part of the Bears' linebacking corps. Williams would be the favorite to start at middle linebacker, as he did for the first six games of 2013, before going on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle. (670 The Score)
McCown looking for more than just money in free agency- Dan Wiederer caught up with Josh McCown and has this great article about what McCown is looking for as a free agent. (Dan Wiederer; Chicago Tribune)
McCown preparing to hit road on free-agent visits- McCown has scheduled a couple free-agent visits, something the Bears expected him to do. It doesn't necessarily change anything in regards to his chances of returning. (Dan Wiederer; Chicago Tribune)
Michael Bennett was not the savior- (Adam Hoge; 670 The Score)
Losing out on Michael Bennett only a minor setback- (Michael C. Wright; ESPN Chicago)
Creating the Chicago Bears' free-agency fallback plan- Great stuff from Matt Eurich on a fallback plan for the Bears if some things don't go as planned for the team in free-agency. (Matt Eurich; Bleacher Report)
Chicago Bears final free-agency outlook and predictions- Matt Eurich with a nice overall look at free-agency for the Bears, along with some predictions on their moves. (Matt Eurich; Bleacher Report)
Bears' 2014 free agency primer- Dan Durkin with a great Bears' free-agency primer. (Dan Durkin; 670 The Score)
A deeper look into Bears free agency- Bears writers Patrick Finley, Adam L. Jahns, and Mark Potash with a nice roundtable discussion in regards to the Bears' free agency. (Chicago Sun-Times)
Bears cannot overpay to fix defense- Mike Burzawa with a nice take on how even though the Bears need to drastically improve their defense, they can't get crazy with money in free agency to do so. (Mike Burzawa; Bear Goggles On)
5 moves the Bears must avoid in free-agency- Ross Read with a good look at five things the Bears have to make sure to avoid doing in free agency. (Ross Read; Bleacher Report)
2014 free agency forecast- (Evan Silva; Rotoworld)
2014 NFL free agents, rankings- (Nick Mensio & Evan Silva; Rotoworld)
PFF's 2014 Top 75 free agents- (Pro Football Focus)
Top 101 NFL free agents for 2014- (Chris Wesseling & Gregg Rosenthal; NFL.Com)
The NFL's best GMs- Phil Emery comes in at 11th on this very interesting piece from Patrick Daugherty that ranks the NFL's general managers. (Patrick Daugherty; Rotoworld)
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