March 14th, 2012
by bearsbacker

The Chicago Bears started of the first day of free agency with a splash when they announced they had acquired WR Brandon Marshall from the Dolphins in exchange for two third-round picks.

Let’s recap the Bears signings and rumors by position:

QB: Jason Campbell signed a one-year deal worth $3.5 million. He provides the Bears with a great option off the bench just in case Jay Cutler suffers an injury. The 30-year old Campbell has 71 games under his belt. He is also a former first-round selection.

RB: Kahlil Bell was tendered for $1.26 million on Monday.

WR: Brandon Marshall comes over from Miami for a third-round pick in 2012 and a third-round pick in 2013. The soon to be 28 year-old Marshall will make just over $9 million over the next three seasons. He is a former fourth-round pick who excelled in his three seasons in Denver with Jay Cutler.  If his head is on straight this move could look brilliant.

TE: Lovie Smith was talking up Kellen Davis and his abilities throughout the NFL Combine. He is already planning visits with Dallas, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati according to ProFootballTalk.com. Because of the fact, the Bears view him more as No. 1 option compared to the teams he plans to visit, the Bears could spend more on him. John Carlson has been linked to Chicago as well. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

DE: Mario Williams visited with the Buffalo Bills today and the Bills are looking to offer him big money to wrap him up. The Bears are likely going to turn their attention to Jeremy Mincey of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Mincey racked up 57 tackles, 8.0 sacks and four forced fumbles last season in Jacksonville. The only concern with Mincey is his sack numbers from last season. Five of his career high eight sacks came against the Indianapolis Colts. Is Mincey a real upgrade over Israel Idonije, who the Bears could let walk in free agency?

LB: The Bears added special teams ace Blake Constanzo to a two-year deal. Constanzo spent last season with the San Fransisco 49ers. He will fit perfectly in Dave Toub’s special teams scheme.

CB: Tim Jennings was re-signed to a two-year deal prior to the start of free agency. He didn’t want to go anywhere and the Bears didn’t want him to go anywhere either. He fits Lovie Smith’s defensive scheme perfectly and has been an asset in his two seasons in Chicago. He is a solid tackler, who just needs to make more plays on the ball opposite of Charles Tillman. The Bears could look to the draft to add a corner or they could re-sign Corey Graham or even look deep at the position in free agency.

S: Laron Landry has been linked to the Bears, but he has also been linked to the Lions, Eagles and Jets. He could command a large contract that the Bears shied away from giving Danieal Manning last off-season. Craig Steltz is an unrestricted free agent, who is solid on special teams and has proven to be a good option off the bench. This position needs a veteran added because its pretty young right now.

Final Thoughts:

Overall the Bears had a very good first day in free agency. Brandon Marshall gives them their first big-time wide receiver in a long time. Tim Jennings returning provides consistency for this veteran defense. Jason Campbell is a clear upgrade at the No. 2 quarterback position over anyone they’ve in over 20 years. Blake Constanzo is a special teams ace, who will only improve Dave Toub’s unit.

New GM Phil Emery clearly isn’t afraid to improve this team right now. He has made some solid moves thus far. Tight end, offensive line, defensive line and safety will be positions the Bears will likely look out in free agency.

Getting Marshall doesn’t make the Bears set at the wide receiver, but it certainly makes them better. People tend to forget that RB Matt Forte has been a leader in receptions for this team. Marshall, Bennett, Forte, Knox (if healthy), Hester and Sanzenbacher is pretty legit. The draft is where the Bears will find another receiver.

Look out for updates for day two of free agency tomorrow.

Jake Perper is the owner and head writer for Bearsbacker.com. He is also the Chicago Bears writer for NFLTouchdown.com. Follow him on Twitter, @Bearsbacker and on Facebook for up to the minute news about the Bears.

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