Showing that the Bears are not completely focused solely on the NFL draft Jerry Angelo continued to do what most Chicago media types figured he wouldn’t do, he added depth to the O-Line. The Bears came to terms with 29-year-old offensive tackle Kevin Shaffer formerly of the Cleveland Browns.
Shaffer is a seven year vet who started 47 of the last 48 games with the Cleveland Browns and is immediately expected to compete for playing time at the RT spot. Shaffer was originally drafted by the Atlanta Falcons before signing a free agent deal with the Browns.
Adding a solid veteran OT who was quoted as saying he wanted to play for the Chicago Bears means that the Bears have more flexibility on draft day. Shaffer signed a three year deal meaning he will be 32-years-old at the end of the deal, giving the Bears the option of drafting a prospect later in the draft who projects as a RT. If the Bears draft a player who needs time to develop at RT Shaffer could potentially man the position for three years.
Three years would be an ideal time frame to develop a prospect that could be drafted on day two of the draft. Adding decently young depth, starting experience only bolsters the notion that Jerry Angelo is in fact committed to improving the O-Line. Frank Omiyale will likely be moved back to LG, Josh Beekman will be forced to compete for the LG spot or be ready to take over for Olin Kreutz as the future at center.
I was satisfied with the starting give potentially being Williams, Beekman, Kreutz, Garza and Omiyale. Jerry Angelo was not so he went out and further helped the O-Line cause. He did so in the fashion he has always been most comfortable with, through free agency. Roberto Garza, Ruben Brown, Fred Miller, John Tait are examples of free agent signings the Bears have made in Angelo’s tenure. All of those happen to be offensive lineman who served the Bears well during their back to back playoff and Super Bowl runs.
Shaffer had a rough tenure in Cleveland originally manning the LT position before being moved to RT after the drafting of Joe Thomas. Shaffer took the move to RT well before struggling a bit in 2008. A fresh start should benefit Shaffer, and his contract likely is a very cost efficient deal that benefits the Bears.
The key for the Bears going forward is building youth along the O-Line, youth that can be developed instead of forced into a starting role. Letting that youth develop over a course of two maybe three years and then from the be ready to be solid starters for seven to ten years after their drafted.