August 1st, 2011
by bearsbacker

The Bears have made some solid moves this off-season. Adding seven new free agents and five of their own free agents. 36 undrafted free agents were also added for training camp.

The Bears made some tough decisions, like letting 13-year veteran Olin Kreutz go and trading away TE Greg Olsen to the Panthers.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what the Bears have added this off-season and what their depth chart could look like for the regular season opener against Atlanta on September 11th.

QB: The Bears brought back backup Caleb Hanie, who made a name for himself in the NFC Championship last January. Hanie was re-signed last Friday on a one-year deal worth over $1 million.

Projected QB Depth Chart: Jay Cutler, Caleb Hanie, Nathan Enderle

RB: The Bears added a powerful runner in veteran Marion Barber. Barber signed a two-year deal worth $5 million this past Saturday. Exclusive rights free-agent Kahlil Bell was brought back on a one-year deal worth under $500,000. Veteran Chester Taylor had a disappointing season last year, but the bulk of the money in his contract was paid last season, so he isn’t a big cap hit this year.

Projected RB Depth Chart: Matt Forte, Marion Barber, Chester Taylor, Kahlil Bell/Harvey Unga.

WR: The Bears added former Cowboys Roy Williams and Sam Hurd. Williams inked a one-year deal worth $1.5 million and Hurd signed a three-year deal worth $5.15 million. But, fan favorite Rashied Davis left for Detroit.

Projected WR Depth Chart: Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett, Roy Williams, Devin Hester, Sam Hurd, Andy Fantuz.

TE: The Bears traded away former first-round pick Greg Olsen to the Panthers for a third-round selection in next years’ draft. Disappointing Brandon Manumaleuna was released as well. Matt Spaeth was added for blocking purposes.

Projected TE Depth Chart: Matt Spaeth, Kellen Davis, Andre Smith (UFA).

OL: The Bears ended the Olin Kreutz era by refusing to give him the contract he desired, because of it Kreutz will likely retire. Veteran Chris Spencer was added as his replacement. Also, guard Edwin Williams was re-signed to a one-year deal. The Bears could be in the market for a veteran guard or tackle before the good ones are all signed.

Projected Offensive Line Depth Chart: LT, J’Marcus Webb, LG Chris Williams, C Chris Spencer, RG Roberto Garza, RT Gabe Carimi. Swing tackle/guard Frank Omiyale.

DL: The Bears re-signed veteran Anthony Adams on a two-year deal. They also added former Jets top ten pick Vernon Gholston, who has been labeled a bust in so far Another first-round pick, Amobi Okoye former Texan was added on a one-year deal as well.

Defensive Line Depth Chart: DE Julius Peppers, DT Anthony Adams, DT Henry Melton, DE Israel Idonije

LB: The Bears brought back Nick Roach on a two-year deal worth $4.5 million and Brian Iwuh on a one-year deal worth $630,000. Both good players, Roach will likely start at strongside linebacker, while Iwuh will backup Briggs at weakside and excel on special teams. Pisa Tinoisamoa could be brought back because currently the Bears only have five backers, they typically like to keep six.

Projected Linebacker Depth Chart: Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher, Nick Roach.

CB: The Bears re-signed Corey Graham to a one-year deal. Graham was the leader on special teams last season, but he will have to earn playing time at corner because a lot of players sit ahead of him in the depth chart.

Projected Cornerback Depth Chart: Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings, D.J. Moore.

S: The Bears haven’t made a move in free agency for a safety yet. They let Danieal Manning flea to Houston, where he received a four-year deal worth $20 million. A veteran safety could be brought into the mix in the coming days.

Projected Safety Depth Chart: FS Major Wright, SS Chris Harris.

K/P: The Bears let 37 year old punter Brad Maynard go, kicker Robbie Gould and long snapper Pat Mannelly weren’t too pleased about that, but Maynard simply wasn’t the same punter he used to be. Former Jaguar Adam Podlesh was added to the mix last Thursday when he signed a five-year deal worth $10 million.

Projected Kicker/Punter Depth Chart: K Robbie Gould, P Adam Podlesh.

Thoughts on Bears Free Agency thus far:

I like what the Bears have done so far. They brought a big powerful running back, Barber into the fold to help out in goal-line situations. They added two tall receivers in Williams and Hurd, they might not be the best, but they will excel in Martz’s system. They also brought in a real blocking tight end in Matt Spaeth.

They replaced aging Olin Kreutz, with 29-year old Chris Spencer, who started a lot of games in Seattle. They added two young defensive linemen Vernon Gholston and Amobi Okoye who have been disappointing so far in their careers, but will likely become motivated under coach Rod Marinelli. They also brought back veteran defensive tackle Anthony Adams, who anchors the tackles on the line.

They re-signed Nick Roach, who will finally get his chance to be the starter from the beginning of the season. The brought back Brian Iwuh and Corey Graham, both players are fantastic on special teams and are capable backups for the Bears. The landed a new punter, who was fifth in the league in net yards in Adam Podlesh.

Overall, the Bears have done a nice job this off-season. They made some tough decisions by letting leader and warrior Olin Kreutz go, trading tight end Greg Olsen away and letting fan favorite Rashied Davis go to the division rival Detroit Lions. But sometimes tough decisions pay off.

In my mind, the Bears are rising right now, they might not have made the flashy moves that some teams have made this off-season. Some say the Eagles are the free agent winners, and they deserved to be crowned as that, but the Bears have made some solid moves to fit the needs of their team.

I wouldn’t count Danieal Manning not being brought back as a tough decision because the decision to let him walk away in free agency was made a while ago.

The Bears will likely make a couple more moves before their first pre-season game against the Buffalo Bills on August 13th. A veteran safety and veteran offensive lineman will likely be brought in. Pisa Tinoisamoa could be brought back if the Bears believe he is healthy.

Don’t be upset Bears fans, this will be an improved ball club this upcoming season even though you might not believe so right now.

Keep reading Bearsbacker.com for more information on each Bears signing.

For more news on Twitter, follow @Bearsbacker.

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