Posts Tagged ‘John St. Clair’
MMI caught the Chicago Bears’ mini-camp wrap up discussion on the Chicago Tribune Live. I must say the host and the moderator David Kaplan of the panel was highly critical of the Bears from the outset. He went along the lines of what most of the message board faithful are ranting about lack of free agency activity and just how bad the team was last year at WR. He spoke in a very condescending tone from beginning to end, making it seem like he is the subject matter expert and the voice of reason. For the most part he took a negative stance with the Bears and their off-season activities and then turned it over for questions.
Kaplan’s stance from the get go, and the lead into the discussion was the Bears did not add a single wide receiver in free agency and our biggest free agency acquisitions are Brett Basanaez and Frank Omiyale. The Bears have no one that can get to the quarterback and they let Mike Brown leave without a replacement. The instant laughter around the panel was that no one got hurt coming out of mini-camp.
Vaughn McClure picked up into the discussion with the Jay Cutler talk stating rather easily that if there is something to look in there that the Bears should at least make the call to see what it would take to land Cutler. McClure followed it up with that he’s not sure that Cutler can be the savior of this team and that he wonders if he has proven himself as a high level high caliber QB. McClure’s early stance is that he’s not confident that one year is enough to judge Cutler by. He’s interrupted by a mention that Cutler was unable to lead Denver to the playoffs even with his monstrous numbers last year.
Kaplan interjects that the Bears he has absolute confidence and faith in Cutler and his statement is that the Bears have an arena league roster of quarterbacks, and that the Bears have never had a big time guy behind the controls. He’s a Pro-Bowler that’s 26-years-old bring him in. Kaplan is then asked what would he give up for him (draft picks player-wise in a trade) and Kaplan says whatever it takes, whatever they want. He’s also talked over when someone says “He’s not Johnny Unitas in his prime” and then is asked would he give up three number ones. Kaplan’s response is that he would give up Orton, Urlacher and a number one for Cutler.
He’s then asked about the three number ones question and Kaplan begins to back track, no he wouldn’t and then, okay your next two number ones (first round picks) and he back tracks again and says no….but is then is called out and said you said whatever it takes. This is why Kaplan is like most fans in that he can’t exactly hold a position when he’s called out on it by someone better than or even on his level in the sports discussion realm.
McClure is hesitant to do the Urlacher Orton and #18 pick for Orton because he states emphatically that Angelo is going to blow the first round pick anyway because the Bears always do blow it. Bob Foltman gets involved in the discussion calling Kaplan a fantasy GM for wanting Chad Johnson, Terrell Owens and Cutler. Kaplan’s response is he wants some personality on this team. As if cancerous team wrecking personality is a good thing for a team to be successful.
Foltman begins to assert himself into the conversation questioning Cutler’s maturity level. Wondering if there are red flag warnings to be wary of given the situation and the stand that Cutler has made. Not every unfamiliar to Bears fans given the Lance Briggs situation from a couple years ago. It sorta boggles the mind that most of these sports caster experts haven’t taken into account the temper tantrum that Briggs through, but how he is now signed to a long-term deal to remain in Chicago.
As an example of just how clown like this Chicago Tribune Live sports show is produced a graphic is flashed on to the screen stating ” Bears look to build on 7-9 season” excuse me? 7 wins and 9 losses in a season? Mr. sports producer the Bears finished 9 and 7 a full two games better than your graphic implies and were one win away from the playoffs. This would be where Lovie Smith said the Bears are close, they were close to making the playoffs and playing in the playoffs anything is possible because the Bears hung with and were with 7 points of beating two of the playoff teams there. Also they beat two of the playoff teams reps on the NFC side of the house in Philadelphia and Minnesota.
Foltman gets his turn on the soap box reasserting that this isn’t like the Joe Montana Steve Young type of controversy. Cutler isn’t an established super star NFL quarterback to be acting this way. The panel wraps up the discussion with Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal being productive NFL wide receivers, which segue ways into the Bears having no WR talent so who is Cutler going to throw to.
With no WR talent Kaplan gets back on his roll of anger and frustration. He starts off by talking about how the Bears had a suspect O-Line even before the start of free agency and now with John Tait and John St. Clair gone it’s one of the worst lines in the NFL. Apparently the Bears said that “we gotta get John St. Clair re-signed according to Kaplan (the Bears said they would like to have him back never said it was a necessity).
Kaplan more forward into his rant that Lovie Smith stated that Earl Bennett has to continue to develop to which Kaplan then countered you have to play to develop. The panel then emphasized that Bennett stated that he didn’t learn the plays very quickly and that is a major area of concern. It’s unanimous that no one like Bennett and it was a mistake to draft him, as well as Kaplan interjects it was a mistake to draft Chris Williams because he had back problems that caused other teams to not draft him at all. In that same vein nothing was ever established or concrete regarding Williams’ back problems being something he had coming out of college that kept other teams from drafting. So that’s rumor being put out as fact by Kaplan.
The panel wraps up the discussion about the possibility of bringing in Torry Holt to help boost the WR core.
Wow quite the mind-numbing bit of reporting full of inaccuracies, anger and a demand for Jerry Angelo to be more like Dan Snyder of the Redskins and spend wildly and freely to upgrade this team. More opinion versus analysis not a lot of in-depth talk. Didn’t speak to much of what went on at Mini-Camp and ranted about how the Bears should get Jay Cutler. Some of this sounds like what we hear every day on the message boards. When the draft comes and more importantly training camp gets underway we’ll be able to better establish just how good or bad the Bears will be this year. Right now in March with the draft and more free agency yet to come and the season still nearly six months away, it’s not easy to judge this team.
The NFL Network’s Path to the Draft show is essentially a prospect and team preview show that happens every day for half an hour. It’s better than any of the crap on ESPN because it encompasses real analysts who have played the game and gasp a real former GM. So when you’re getting opinion on these players from these guys at least they’ve been there done that or have made a living off of doing it. Instead of the Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay pissing match you get real in-sight and analysis on the players. Plus it’s not a five minute segment that they do on ESPN’s sports center where you have to watch the douche bag commentators on there who are trying to be as witty and funny as Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann were. Never can beat the original.
So with that in mind they’re addressing the Chicago Bears’ first round team need at O-Line, WR and apparently QB. Until the Bears have a hall of famer under center well the majority opinion is that the Bears will need to draft a QB. There’s a quick mention of the Bears’ last four first round draft picks, Tommie Harris at 14, Cedric Benson at 4, Greg Olsen at 31 and Chris Williams at 14. Benson being the biggest bust of the bunch Angelo made up for it immediately before cutting him by drafting Matt Forte last year.
The analyst brought in to talk about the Bears is Dan Pompei. There’s a major advantage the Bears have in already holding mini-camp, they know how well some of the players have stayed in shape in the off-season. Additionally they know whether or not the players on the roster are serious about football and how it is a year round job. Pompei immediately dives into the Bears’ need at OT. Pompei’s opinion is far different than mine, he seems to have completely bought into the argument that Frank Omiyale was brought in to strictly compete at left guard. That’s pretty funny because Omiyale has never played guard in his career and earned his money based on his ability to play OT for the Carolina Panthers. The media has fallen for the smoke screen that Jerry Angelo put out there regarding Omiyale. Angelo puffed up the smoke screen because he wanted to not publicly apply pressure to John St. Clair that they had already found his replacement. They did find his replacement because after one day at guard, Omiyale moved over to RT immediately upon St. Clair signing.
Omiyale would have likely supplanted a starter and it wouldn’t have been Josh Beekman because Beekman didn’t play as bad as St. Clair did last season. Plus you can be safe in the starting five being what it would have been last year had Chris Williams not been injured. Williams will be an upgrade over St. Clair and Omiyale might be an upgrade over Tait, because Tait aged so fast.
Pompei next has to answer to the column in which he wrote about “If Jay Cutler is available the Bears should pursue him. To which Pompei has to essentially back track on that column with more support towards Kyle Orton than he originally intended to give when he wrote the column. They wax poetic about the Jay Cutler trade, to which the question immediately shifts to, do the Bears take a QB at 18 or a OT. Ummm…the consensus is the Bears need a WR or an OT at 18. Kyle Orton is fine as a QB, his production slipped due to injury. He played five games he likely shouldn’t have because his production in those five games where he was injured was better than what Rex Grossman would have been healthy. That says a lot about Grossman that a hobbled Kyle Orton is better than you.
Pompei not the subject matter expert you would expect here. He says Angelo likes to draft lineman and is pretty good at drafting lineman. Yeah perhaps D-Lineman but certainly not O-Lineman. Angelo has only drafted two OTs in the first round in drafts that he was allegedly a part of in his career (including Tampa Bay and Chicago). One OT had a decent career and is currently a free agent, the other had injury problems forcing the Bears to release him, but now he’s a multi-year starter in Dallas. Angelo’s evaluating strength is on defense rather than offense, let’s be clear on that immediately.
So who would Dan Pompei take at 18 if an OT was available? Eben Britton from Arizona. Pompei’s opinion is that he could man that RT spot immediately because he’s big and strong and help in the run game. Uh Britton was rarely asked to run block the last two years at Arizona. They ran most of their offense out of the Texas Tech passing spread offense. So there wasn’t a lot of creativity with their run plays at the UofA. To say Britton can stick his hand in the dirt and be a run blocker is a bit ignorant when the guy comes out of a pass first pass heavy offense. The same questions arise when people talk about Jason Smith at Baylor because he played in the spread too.
So apparently in this segment Dan Pompei has no clue to which he speaks he talks in generalities and football cliches about players of which he has no clue about what they are like or what system they come from. This is not to say Britton wouldn’t be a good pick at 18, it’s just saying his strengths lie elsewhere beside run blocking. To add to my point the high-lights they show of Britton show him run blocking, albeit out of two point stance. He stands in his two point stance essentially giving the DE the idea that he’s going to pass block, the DE shoots up the field and Britton simply walls him off like it’s a draw play. Britton already has the inside advantage because the play is going to the opposite side of where the defender is attacking, advantage to the blocker.
Sticking your hand in the dirt and firing off the line when it’s a HB-Iso or zone blocking running play is much more important to the Bears than being able to fool the defender by making them think you’re going to pass when in fact it’s a run call. Neither the host of the segment or Pompei has a clue about this little common sense difference between OTs who come from a spread offense and OTs who come from a pro-style offense.
Pompei’s next line of thought as to who the Bears might select at WR if they go that route at 18 is Kenny Britt from Rutgers. He might be a bit of a reach at 18 but I could definitely see him in the second round. Britt is as Pompei says the perfect compliment to Devin Hester, he’s big fast and catches the ball well. If the Bears don’t trade down, but can trade up into the earlier part of the second round to take a WR like Britt after they draft an OT at 18 that’s a good strategy as well.
The next question is why the Bears were not more active in free agency and Pompei is a better subject matter expert on this than most of the Bears related talk we’ve heard to this point. Pompei has spoken to Angelo at length and he essentially stated that this is the worst free agent class he’s ever seen. Why were the Bears not more active, when the GM feels like it’s the worst free agency class ever, there’s your answer. Rightly or wrongly Bears fans Angelo is the GM and is getting paid for his judgment and based on that football knowledge and judgment the Bears didn’t go on a spending spree to add average to marginal level talent. They did add players that are marginal or average, but they did so in a cost effective manner.
History will prove Angelo right or wrong on this call so we’ll see how things go.
So to wrap up the segment of the Bears on the clock with Dan Pompei as the subject matter expert the Bears may look at Eben Britton or Kenny Britt at 18. WR and OT are the most important aspects to this franchise, heading into the draft. Although if I’m making the call it’s a player like Hakeem Nicks at 18 and maybe a Phil Loadholt in the second round.
No one should be shocked with the thought that Frank Omiyale would move over to RT with John St. Clair signing with the Cleveland Browns. That’s precisely what came to fruition on the second day of mini-camp today as Omiyale lined up at his more comfortable OT position. There is really no concern with making this move it’s the smart thing to do. While publicly stating and showing for the time being that Omiyale was brought in to compete at LG the fact of the matter is he’s an OT first and foremost and Josh Beekman did nothing to hurt the notion that he is the true starter at LG.
Bears fans can be upset that Angelo blew a smoke screen up their butts, but the fact of the matter is Omiyale was likely to end up at RT the entire time. Joh St. Clair’s value was as a backup, Omiyale’s value is as a starter, look at the contract numbers that Omiyale got and what the Bears offered St. Clair if you have any doubts. The position that Omiyale was brought in at guard was only a negotiating ploy to make St. Clair feel better about the likelihood he would be replaced.
I predicted as much in my mini-camp preview that the starting five on the O-Line come September would be Williams, Beekman, Kreutz, Garza and Omiyale. Having Omilyale as the starter at RT for the duration of the contract also ensures that the Bears could easily take an OT project type of player who could develop for two to three years as a back up before being asked to start. St. Clair maybe had one or two years left, and they certainly would not have been good years at that. Omiyale looked comfortable and more natural at RT anyway. It’s where he fits in and the position he knows the best.
Elsewhere the question would be are the Bears likely to keep four running backs on the roster this year like they did in 2008? Or will that fourth RB be replaced by a sixth WR on the roster? The next question who is likely the odd man out if the Bears stick with only two RBs? The guess is Adrian Peterson given the Bears just signed Kevin Jones to a shiny new two-year contract and since Garrett Wolfe is younger than Peterson and offers more versatility with his speed. Kevin Jones for his part looks a lot more in shape having spent a year rehabbing from his knee problems and now working out with the club. With less weight and more muscle Jones will be faster and hopefully should take carries away from Matt Forte.
The likelihood he can take carries away from Forte seem even less likely given how Forte has looked so far in camp. Forte gets it he doesn’t have to be brought along or mentored he realizes that the only way he can be successful and get better in this league is to work on everything that makes a great back a complete back. Forte’s versatility is evident by his 60-plus receptions he had as a rookie. Look for him to get more involved in the offense as a pass receiver as well. Causing that much more of a head ache for defensive coordinators throughout the league.
While Lovie Smith often times is accused of being disinterested or not enthusiastic, there is one thing Smith takes personally and that’s the performance of his defense. Smith has been quite hands on with the defense thus far realizing that the drop off in defensive production and success will likely be what could cost him his job. Given that Smith is a defensive minded guy it should make Bears fans sleep easier that Bob Babich has for all intents and purposes been demoted. Combine Smith with new hires Rod Marinelli and secondary coach John Hoke and the expectations of a Monsters of Midway level defense return.
Speaking of the secondary thus far Craig Steltz has been cutting his teeth at the strong safety position with Kevin Payne out due to a minor injury recovery process. Josh Bullocks is the “starting” free safety for the time being and so far has taken to the ease of transition in the Cover-2. Bullocks’ responsibilities in coverage will be lessened by the more safety oriented zone packages the Bears run. He’ll have less ground to cover and he’ll be able to read and react more which should give him an easier task of making more plays.
Reports in from Halas Hall has the Bears pretty excited to be back in camp. Though they only did team drills and seven on seven work today in no pads it’s to have the team focusing in on 2009 at this juncture.
Some of the talk via ESPN 1000 sports radio had bits from Rod Marinelli who is excited to be back out there as a positional coach. This is the area of expertise that Marinelli has and working with the D-Linemen and their technique is stuff you like to hear. Warren Sapp has given a lot of credit to Marinelli for making him the sure fire hall of famer that he is at the DT position. Given Tommie Harris’ level of talent hopefully he can develop him along the same line.
Marinelli talked about how excited he was to be out there and how much he loves football. To him football in general is just a wonderful thing and he looks forward to continuing to work with this group of guys. Having followed Marinelli’s career since his young days at Arizona State there is little doubt in my mind of his enthusiasm and intensity as a coach.
Talk from Marinelli also surrounded how much he loves coaching the D-Lineman. He has a great appreciation for those guys that do battle in the trenches and fight hard week in and week out. To put it simply perhaps no one better understands that the success of the defensive unit as a whole starts with the men up front.
Marinelli has a lot of talent to work with, guys that have had successful careers and guys just cutting their teeth in develop a successful career. Don’t underestimate the type of player DT Marcus Harrison is going to be for this defense. Although he better fits the 3-technique type of player in this scheme, Harrison could see more time with Dusty Dvoracek recovering from his triceps surgery.
Elsewhere on the field today the first reports came in regarding WR Earl Bennett. Bennett caught some balls and worked on some things with Kyle Orton. Not much happened though since it was a little breezy out today. Hester is out there as the self-proclaimed #1 receiver and seems determined to be THE player the Bears need out there. He’ll get every opportunity in mini-camp to prove just that.
Jay Cutler rumors also don’t appear to have effected Kyle Orton’s mentality about being the long term solution at QB. From the NFL Network Orton said “I think I’m going to do everything I can and work as hard as I can and be the guy that stabilizes it (the QB position). I don’ think that say I’m not going to be that guy, I think I am going to be that guy. I think this is my offense and I’m working as hard as I can to show everybody that it’s my job.”
Lovie Smith himself feels confident in Orton as the long term solution given how well he performed the first half of the season. The numbers back up Lovie’s assessment of Orton and given that the Bears will likely bring in a receiver on day one of the draft Orton will have every opportunity to play himself into a long term extension in the final year of his contract. The more weapons surrounding Orton the better off the offense and Orton will be. Orton should only build upon the early success he had in 2008 and will likely have a break out year which causes fans to forget about this Cutler crap.
Elsewhere with the news that John St. Clair is moving on to play with the Cleveland Browns second year man Cody Balough was getting the reps at first team RT. There could be movement on the free agent market to keep an eye on in the coming days with Orlando Pace, Levi Jones, Marvel Smith of three former Pro-Bowlers available in free agency. If the Bears don’t choose the free agent route they could move Frank Omiyale out to RT (he was running 2nd team LG today) or they could draft a solid prospect on day one. For the sake of mini-camp it will be Balough as the “starter”.
When asked if the Bears were still in the market for more offensive lineman Lovie’s answer was more direct in saying “It’s the off-season we keep all our options open.”
Those options could be in free agency or the draft, either way now that St. Clair is in fact gone, the Bears will be upgrading the OT position from last year.
Going into the 2008 season there was a lot of questions surrounding the offensive line after the Bears let go of proven and aging veterans Ruben Brown and Fred Miller. In their place stepped in rookies Chris Williams and Josh Beekman. To be fair Beekman was not in his first year in the league, it was only his first year receiving game experience. Williams was injured about 20 minutes into training camp and barely played the rest of the season. Earning snaps in live game action but nothing more than that. From there the Bears posted a better rushing attack than in 2007 and mediocre pass protection at best. Yet some how with average production and protection at best the line earned somewhat rave reviews after the 2008 season.
Puzzling as it may be the 2009 Chicago Bears find themselves in an eerily similar situation heading into mini-camp this week. The offensive line is a question mark with aging veterans and an unproven second year player at the LT spot. John St. Clair’s unresolved free agency situation also hasn’t provided much comfort to the Midway Monster faithful.
Center: Olin Kreutz is a 12-year veteran who is winding down his NFL career. Kreutz is the glue the anchor and all the other fancy adjectives you can throw out there to describe the best lineman on the team who makes everyone around him better. Kreutz has never been a mauler of a center and by almost all scouting accounts is to small for the position at only 6-foot-2 292-pounds. Funny thing is he has been one of the most effective players in the league at his position over the last 12-years. Kreutz has been to six Pro-Bowls in his career earning all the respect necessary from his peers by achieving such an honor.
Kreutz is perhaps known as a fighter both literally and figuratively and he doesn’t back down from anyone. He’ll be the crusty old veteran out there on the field and while he may not be the player he once was he still plays well enough at a consistent level that he could easily be here a few more years at the right price.
RG Roberto Garza may be the most underappreciated lineman on the team given his tenure on the team as a starter. While Garza isn’t a player on an elite level he has been consistent most of his career. Sure with Pat and Kevin Williams in the conference you’d like to see someone who could better hold his ground against those two, but Garza does well enough.
He has struggled more lately and could be seeing some competition from recently acquired free agent Frank Omiyale. Omiyale is being paid starter level money so the speculation is that he’ll be there to push Garza. Garza doesn’t need much pushing but the additional sure fire competition never hurt any team. Omiyale however has yet to play a down at guard and we’ll see how fast he picks up the blocking scheme the Bears run. Developing chemistry will be the key for Omiyale. My guess though is Garza’s job is safe and Omiyale might better push John St Clair at RT though the front office has stated otherwise.
RT Well John Tait retired and John St Clair is unsigned currently visiting the Cleveland Browns so the Bears just may start out with Frank Omiyale at RT for the sake of mini-camp. That would be the smart thing to do is get the younger probably better Omiyale used to playing with the first team. Doing so would also send the message that the Bears do in fact have a contingency plan in place should St. Clair decide to walk.
From my perspective the Bears should most certainly stand pat with their contract offer. St. Clair is not a starter level player. He is a career back up who gets a lot more respect than he deserves for his time as a starter. He is easily the worst OT on the roster and if he decides to walk the Bears would be better off for it. It would easily put the Bears at a point where they would have to draft St. Clair’s replacement amongst their top three picks in the draft. Moving Omiyale over to start or having a solid rookie there to start at RT would make me feel better than having St. Clair back.
I hear the arguments for him being back and if he comes back at the price the front-office wants him back at then fine. But there shouldn’t be ANY movement towards giving St. Clair more money if he gets a better offer from the Browns. The Bears will be able to move on from him, without question. Plus Angelo will look like a genius for letting him go in the long run because building up talented youth will be far more important than caving in to any demand St. Clair would try to make.
LG Josh Beekman came in with not a lot of expectations for 2008. Most everyone figured he would be awful so they had already resigned themselves to the fact that he wouldn’t play at a high level. Thing is those people and myself were wrong and Beekman played well for a second year pro just getting his feet wet. The good news is Beekman will only get better, and he will benefit from playing next to Kreutz for any length of time. Beekman is the heir apparent for now at center but getting him game experience is paramount to his continued development and success. There likely won’t be a lot learned at mini-camp other than developing chemistry with Chris Williams on the left side.
LT Chris Williams is already labeled a bust by some strong opinionated Bears fans for not being a Pro-Bowl starter his rookie year. The demands put on by some in the Chicagoland area both fan and media alike can be at times outrageous. Absolutely it was disappointing that a rookie drafted so highly as Williams didn’t come in and start. But the disdain and worry about Williams didn’t start with his back, it started much earlier when articles popped up about his arms being to short. A simple google search brings up articles on just the topic.
The odd thing is with all the reporting down on Willliams and his arm length no one picked up on the back problems that propped up later on in training camp. Williams states the Bears knew about it, Angelo states the Bears didn’t and the media has a field day with it . Ironically this wasn’t talked about during Williams time at the scouting combine and the media failed to pick up on it then.
So apparently Williams will be an abject failure because a) his arms are to short b) his bad back c) He was drafted by the Chicago Bears and Jerry Angelo. All of which seem preposterous on a whole new level. One thing is for sure it will be great to the Bears earning a return on their investment either way. It’s time to move beyond the short arms, beyond the back problems and focus on what Williams can do from here on out. If he performs as well as Josh Beekman did after sitting out his entire rookie season the Bears will be just fine.
Mini-camp will do a lot to clear the air surrounding both Williams and Omiyale. Chemistry development takes root at this point and that is what is most important for the Bears right now. If the starting five were in fact to be Williams, Beekman, Kreutz, Garza and Omiyale I would be quite confident in that line up being as productive or more consistent than the O-Line of 2008. Mini-camp just may be the start of where this level of play is established.
The Bears addressed an immediate need today by signing Frank Omiyale a versatile offensive tackle from the Carolina Panthers who could wind up playing left guard in the future if Josh Beekman moves inside to center as expected. Omiyale has the same level of versatility that John St Clair had to this franchise but he’s younger and you would have to assume more affordable. Affordable in that St Clair was probably offered the same level of money that Omiyale was and turned it down thus hitting the free agent market on Thursday night.
So with the initial free agency frenzy almost in the books after 18 hours who is left? Essentially anyone that the Bears could want if they feel the price is right. Though its apparent the Bears are likely following a strict criteria which may not sit well with some Bears fans the only thing is certain is that Angelo is doing something none of us thought would happen a mere 18 hours ago.
The debate in Chicagoland wasn’t who the Bears would sign, it was would the Bears sign anyone at all? Now we find out that no one really now knows what the Angler is up to. The running line of thought was and still pretty much is that the Bears will do nothing. However Angelo already proved us wrong in a matter of five hours so the new thought should be let’s calm down and see what happens before the draft.
Angelo has proven before that he can go any route he wants with this franchise. He can make a sudden signing like he did today or he can wait it out see where things are and see who is left standing at the end of the day. Bears fans should recall that Lance Briggs was on the open market for quite some time before he re-signed with the Bears so it’s important for the Bears to not knee jerk react to the first 18 hours and see how things pan out.
It would be nice to have all the money to throw around like Dan Snyder of the Redskins does on a nearly annual basis but then you’d be stuck with showing off three Lombardi trophies won in a completely different era, under a completely different ownership group with a completely different coach. For now Snyder is the talk of the league, but a year from now he could be mocked for making another bone-headed free agent signing that cost his team too much money.
One thing we must remember though is free-agency isn’t like national signing day in college. It’s an ongoing process of evaluations and decisions that lasts a couple months before teams focus the last week of the energy in April to strictly the draft and the decisions that entails.
There are still some good players to be had, Nate Washington is a popular choice as a WR, Bryant Johnson as well. Recently released guard Brandon Moore looks like a very enticing prospect, but how much money he is commanding is another aspect of the equation likely to be considered. The Bears are fairly comfortable with Josh Beekman and his development at guard and Angelo has gone on record as saying he is pretty comfortable with Beekman’s play from last year.
Additionally just how things eb and flow so drastically is being reported right now. Roberto Garza’s play has fallen out of favor with the team and he is now in danger of losing his job to Omiyale. Omiyale is being slated to play guard and the Bears are still wanting John St Clair to return. It appears that his immediate future may be at guard and if the Bears don’t manage to sign St Clair then he could take over at RT.
This recently updated news could mean that the Bears are in the market for another player as a contingency to losing St. Clair.
So while it seems like nothing is likely to happen and the cult like hype of the off-season for football addicts is at it’s annual peak, it’s important to remember that patience is a virtue and Rome wasn’t built in 18 hours.
Jerry Angelo proved a lot of detractors wrong, including myself by singing former Carolina Pather offensive tackle Frank Omiyale to a four year $14-million deal in the early part of free agency Friday. Omiyale was the back up LT for the Carolina Panthers last year playing in 10 games behind Pro-Bowler Jordan Gross who was injured off and on.
Omiyale performed quite well in Gross’ spot which was enough to land him the offer from Chicago. Omiyale addresses an immediate need for the Bears who appear ready to drop out of the race for OT John St. Clair who started all 16 games at LT last year for Chicago. St Clair had thus far rejected the Bears’ offer to stay and reached the open market Thursday night.
A wise move by Angelo and I give him solid props for making this move on the account of Omiyale is only 26-years-old and has starting experience. He played well for a playoff team so you know expectations are high for him and he has that youth element which St. Clair lacked.
If St. Clair does not return I won’t be shedding any tears over his departure as the Bears needed to get younger and add experience. They did both with this free agency signing and added a player who could start immediately at RT.
Most certainly I can eat any negative words I have spewed about Angelo with this free agent deal. He has proved a lot of critics wrong and if you were out scouting around for free agent stories prior to the free agency period opening you knew that there was a negative buzz surrounding the Bears doing nothing.
The follow up question would be do the Bears take an O-Lineman on the second day of the draft and potentially develop him for four years down the line? My guess is the Bears most assuredly won’t take an OT on day 1 of the draft now which narrows their draft focus a bit. This is always a good thing to fill holes as you go, again good move by Jerry Angelo.
You would like to think the Chicago Bears wouldn’t have to essentially bend to the will of a 32-year old career back up offensive tackle. But that’s essentially where they are at with offering John St. Clair a three-year contract. They have no choice but to offer him a contract on his terms and they have to meet his demands.
Though it’s not likely St. Clair will command a lot of money on the open market, nor should he have any notion in his head that he can command a lot from the Bears in terms of money. However he can most certainly make Jerry Angelo sweat and he should because Angelo should not be in this position in the first place.
Angelo shouldn’t have let his offensive line personnel age so quickly. Having three offensive tackles over the age of 30 (Fred Miller John Tait and John St. Clair) is a recipe for disaster, and that’s exactly the recipe Angelo followed up until Chris Williams’ selection in the NFL draft last year. Now even with the addition of Williams his position is not much better. Williams had a herniated disk and spent the entire season on the bench when he should have been spent time developing his skills against some of the best pass-rushers in the league last year.
Now John Tait is set to retire leaving Angelo flailing around once again heading up to the draft. Angelo must find and develop a potential replacement for St. Clair who didn’t perform all that in the first place and only started because of Williams’ injury. However with the way the OT free agent market has shaped up Angelo must attempt to resign him even if they do draft his eventual successor. It would not be a wise idea thinking that you can successfully navigate a tough schedule with two OTs who have a combined ZERO NFL starts between them heading into 2009.
If I am St. Clair I will eventually accept the Bears’ offer, but I may make them sweat up until the day before the draft or shop the contract offer just to see what sort of guaranteed money I could get.
It’s also safe to say that St Clair’s signing is urgently needed before the draft just to get a better read on the Big Board for the Bears’ front office. Sign St Clair and WR may be the best way to go at 18, don’t sign him and the urgency the front office feels on draft day may be to much for them to Bear.