A report surfaced yesterday from Darren Sharper’s agent that the Chicago Bears one of a few teams that have contacted him about his client. Sharper is a 12-year free-safety veteran who has played for both Green Bay and Minnesota in his career, going to two Pro-Bowls with each team.
Before the Bears land a shot with him however the New Orleans Saints are first up on the list to receive a visit. Sharper spoke about the reasons why he’ll sign with the team he chooses essentially looking to land with a team in the hunt for a title therefore giving himself the best chance to kiss the trophy before he retires.
If that’s the case then he should likely just stay in Minnesota because neither the Bears or the Saints made the playoffs last year. Plus with the Bears’ current receiver situation and little to no movement in the market regarding finding a WR target the offense will likely tumble further into obscurity in 2009.
So the plausible question is what type of player would the Bears be getting if Sharper turned allegiances to an NFC North rival once again? A player that can still be decently productive but is far from the prime of his career, or showing that he’s still capable of making plays like he was in his prime. Sharper’s tackling numbers have been in the area of around 65 to 70 per season the past few years and he’s likely capable of those type of numbers again. In the INT and pass break up department he’s not as consistent, but really no player can really ever stay that consistent from year to year.
If the Bears land Sharper the money will obviously be Sharper’s first motivation because the title aspirations are far fetched. The question then is what will his motivation to contribute be? I would guess two years of decent production and then retirement, not exactly something the Bears need at free-safety.
The Bears would be better off finding the equivalent of Frank Omilaye in the free agent market someone young who could come in and contribute for at least four to five years. Craig Steltz may get kudos on his development from the coaching staff but the fact of the matter is there wasn’t anything from Steltz that looked like a rookie struggling. Steltz struggled mightily in run support whiffing on the majority of the tackles he tried to make, and unless it was an obvious passing situation looked lost in coverage.
To be fair being lost in coverage as a rookie is pretty routine, but having problems in run support in unacceptable. Sharper would be an upgrade over Steltz but the Bears would still need to address the safety position in the draft. Given the recent success they have had in drafting quality safeties in the later rounds Sharper may be an acceptable stop gap between a future young stud who could be ready by to by his third year in the NFL.
Landing a veteran play maker past his prime is acceptable if you’re in the window of a Super Bowl run, but the Bears’ window has slammed shut. The steps that need to be taken now is building around the youth of this team, specifically around Matt Forte.