Chicago Bears: Rumors
Complete Bears season preview.
Here are five pressing needs as the Bears head into an uncertain future with a yet to be named general manager:
1. Wide receiver
It was impossible to watch the NFL playoff action over wildcard weekend and not notice the abundance of big plays made by wide receivers. Houston's Andre Johnson, New Orleans' Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem, Detroit's Calvin Johnson, New York's Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham and Denver's Demaryius Thomas and Eddie Royal all had impressive games. And those were just wideouts who made impact plays over the weekend. Atlanta has Roddy White and Julio Jones. Pittsburgh has the promising duo of Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. And Cincinnati wisely used a 2011 first-round pick on A.J. Green.
The Bears' method of receiver by committee is unacceptable. They must add at least two viable threats at the position to complement Earl Bennett, and as insurance in the event Johnny Knox is slow to recover from a serious back injury. The days of 37 receptions for 507 yards and two touchdowns constituting "enough plays" from a receiver are over. Vincent Jackson, Dwayne Bowe, Wes Welker and Colston need to be on the Bears' radar once free agency begins. Lovie Smith should even put in a call to Tony Dungy to ask the former Colts coach how much he truly believes Reggie Wayne has left in the tank. The Bears' group of receivers are in dire need of an upgrade. To ignore the position (Roy Williams, Sam Hurd and Dane Sanzenbacher don't count) for a second straight offseason would be downright criminal.
2. Defensive end
Why the Bears failed to spend money last year on Jason Babin is beyond me. If the Bears want to re-sign Israel Idonije, a solid third defensive end, that's fine, but the club needs another fierce pass rusher to complement Julius Peppers. Peppers constantly faces double teams, which should free up the other defensive end to register at least 10 sacks per season. That should be the bare minimum.
We haven't seen much out of former fourth-round pick Corey Wootton. On the other hand, Chauncey Davis did a nice job late in the season and earned the right to stick on the roster heading into training camp, but the Bears need to prioritize the position in the draft or free agency. As a whole, Bears defensive ends only managed 17 sacks in 2011, with 11 of those coming courtesy of Peppers. Babin had 18 all by himself with the Philadelphia Eagles. That's a problem.
Jennings might remain in the mix considering he's proven to be a pretty good player in this system, although he comes with certain limitations. Bowman probably could use a fresh start someplace else, so the odds of him returning appear to be slim. Even if the Bears hold on to Jennings, they still require more depth at the position and another future starter. Can it be done? The Bears also have some decisions to make at safety, where Chris Conte showed promise and Craig Steltz made a strong push late in the year to be re-signed, but former third-round pick Major Wright inspires little confidence.
Are the Bears really going to head into another year with Wright penciled into the starting lineup? Every player deserves a second chance, but Wright has been handed every opportunity imaginable and still makes costly mistakes. D.J. Moore appears to have a decent hold on the nickel back spot, although he was never quite the same after he punched Matthew Stafford in the head then hurt his ankle a few days later at practice.
4. Left tackle
You could point to the Bears making the NFC Championship Game in 2010 with Frank Omiyale. But when the Bears were really good (2005 and 2006) the left tackle was John Tait. Granted, Tait was a proven veteran when he arrived in Chicago, but based on two years of work at left and right tackle, Webb has a long way to go before he reaches Tait's level, or that of Fred Miller. Which brings me to another issue: Was Smith serious when he said the current offensive line situation is the best it's been since he got to town in 2004? Uh, no Lovie. That would have been the aforementioned group of Tait (LT), Ruben Brown (LG), Olin Kreutz (C), Roberto Garza (RG) and Miller (RT) that paved the way for back-to-back division titles. How quickly they forget at Halas Hall.
5. No. 2 quarterback
If Kyle Orton is available, sign him. End of story. Orton has made no secret how much he would welcome a chance to return to Chicago. He is the ideal backup to Jay Cutler. In a perfect world, the Bears never even need to use Orton because Cutler stays healthy. But we all know there is no perfect world when it comes to the NFL. If you have to make Orton one of the highest paid No. 2 quarterbacks in the league, then so be it.
The Bears cannot afford to let another season slip away due to limited options on the depth chart behind Cutler. Josh McCown did a good job given the circumstances, and if he performs reasonably well in training camp, should be rewarded with a roster spot as the No. 3 QB. But at least initially, the Bears need to aim higher than McCown to become Cutler's primary backup. If there is no one else out there -- i.e. Orton gets a starting job somewhere -- then McCown could factor into the equation.
But according to the source, the Bears envision Roach as a backup linebacker/special teams standout, the same role the Northwestern product held in 2010.
Roach may be comfortable staying in Chicago under those parameters, according to the source. The linebacker has made it clear in the past that he's extremely fond of his teammates and coaches and would prefer to remain with the Bears.
But it's unknown what type of interest Roach may draw on the open market. A chance to start for another team, or a significantly better offer could change the entire equation.
Since being signed off the San Diego Chargers practice squad in November 2007, Roach has made 30 career starts for the Bears, six last season, and tied for the team lead with 10 tackles for a loss in 2009. The versatile linebacker has collected 27 special teams tackles while in a Bears' uniform.
Bears general manager Jerry Angelo met with the press before Thursday's game in Miami. Here's a look at what he had to say.
What area have you been most pleased with or surprised by?
Angelo: I’ve been pleased with what the offense has done in the last two weeks. We felt we would be this. We thought we would be it be a little sooner. So that’s been good to see.
I think the offensive line is starting to come together. Obviously, that’s critical, particularly with all the sacks that we had early on and Jay [Cutler’s] situation. That’s been good.
Defensively, I don’t want to say I’ve been surprised, but we’ve been playing good defense. We’ve been playing good defense throughout for the most part. Short of Julius [Peppers], it’s not like we have a bevy of all-stars. It’s just been a real good, collective group, so hopefully we’re going to continue to see that.
Did you think your defense would be so successful
JA: That’s a good question because we talk so much about the sacks. Our defense is built for third down. But the one thing we’ve been able to do, and we did a pretty good job of it last week, was generate some pressure, particularly on third down. We’re playing a true Cover 2 defense right now. There are no bells and whistles to it. It’s pretty vanilla-standard, and you can do that if you’re getting pressure. You’re seeing the quarterbacks going down and you’re seeing the checkdowns. Those are the things you want from the offense, and we’ve been getting that. We’ve been getting real good results on third down.
And then the takeaways. The takeaways have been the key. I think if we’re not one, we’re two in the league in takeaways. Our defense has always been predicated on that. So things are falling into place.
The offense has been more balanced lately, did Mike Martz have to be reigned in during the bye?
JA: You know, I’m not going to say it that way. Mike is new to the players. Obviously, Mike has expectations of what he wants to do with our offense. But you have to play to know what you can and can’t do. I felt -- and everybody saw what we saw -- that you have to protect the quarterback, and we needed to do things different than maybe what we wanted to do early on, and we adjusted.
That’s the great thing about great coaches. They do what they have to do, not necessarily what they wanted to do. I think Mike and the whole staff adjusted very, very well, and our players are more comfortable now, and they have to be in order to play with any kind of confidence. Hopefully, we’re going to see that [continue] and our offense grow as it has.
Devin Hester saw more time on returns and his reps at wideout were scaled back last week, is that a fundamental shift in philosophy?
JA: When I look at this offense -- and I know it’s been said last year, a little bit this year -- the No. 1 receiver is overrated. We’re receiver-by-committee, and that’s a good thing because anybody in any given game could be the guy. We’ve done a good job getting all of the guys integrated into the offense. What Devin’s role will continue to be, we’ll see. We do know he is a good receiver. We know what he can do as a returner and how he can impact the game, so there’s a balance there. I’m sure our coaches are very cognizant of the reps he’s going to get on offense to make sure that if they’re going to use him as a dual performer, as they did last week, then we’re going to get a fresh Devin for four quarters.
So is it just working out that way, or a fundamental change or organizational decision to change his role?
JA: No, I can’t say that right now. Could it evolve that way from here on out? It can, but that’s not to say that that’s what we’re going to do throughout.
What are your thoughts on Julius Peppers' season?
JA:I think he’s great. I wouldn’t take another defensive player in the league outside of him. He’s a great player. He has impacted our defense. He’s a guy you have to account for. He plays all three downs. Don’t let the sack numbers be the end result of how you measure this guy. He really, truly is a great player. He has been a great leader for us, too, and you can’t minimize the intangibles. I think a big part of why we’ve been playing good defense is intangibly, we’re very, very strong. I’ve got to say this: It starts with him.
The team has lots of vets in last the year of their deals -- including Olin Kreutz, Anthony Adams and Patrick Mannelly -- does labor uncertainty prevent you and other teams from making deals during the season? Is that a tough area right now?
JA: It is. Everybody is moving cautiously because there is a lot of uncertainty and before you commit money, you want to have a better understanding of what the cap is going to be. Time is an ally for us, so we need to take advantage of that time. It will all play out, and everybody’s in the same boat. We’re no different than anybody else. You’re not seeing a lot of activity. We probably had more activity in the offseason than anybody. I think you saw it in the offseason with that mindset. But we feel good with where we’re at, and once we get a little bit more clarity, and hopefully that will be sooner than later, we’ll be able to act accordingly.
Have the Bears been more lucky than good?
JA: This is the NFL. Were not talking about college where you look at your schedule you’ve probably got seven or eight wins if you’re a really good football team. It doesn’t work that way. Every week is a real challenge. If we don’t come in play well tonight, if we don’t tackle well, the quarterback won’t make a difference for this football team. You have to play hard every week. You can’t turn the ball over. All those things people do to beat themselves. If you do that regardless of what you’re talent level is you’re going to lose the football game. It’s too hard on Sundays. We’ve played some good football irelavant of the teams we’re playing and what their records are. I thought that team we played last week was a very good football team. Nobody is raising their hand to play Minnesota. We won the game. WE just hope we continue right now to get momentum and play good football on both sides of the ball, special teams, that’s what everybody wants to do right now.
Is Jay Cutler better this year than last year?
JA: He definitely is better than what he was last year. He’s more comfotable in what he’s doing. You’re starting to see that. The last few weeks I think he’s got a much better feel for the rush. He’s starting to move in the pocket, otu of the pocket, making plays, doing things now that show a lot more confidence in his ability to make plays. We all know he’s very gifted in terms of his arms strength. He’s learning the offense, the players around him. That’s still a work in progress, but I think he has definitely taken a step.
Are you satisfied with where he is in Year 2?
JA: Absolutely. The expectations when he came in was that he was going to walk on water. I never thought that. I knew there would be some growing pains. He hit every speed bump you could hit last year and I feel he worked harder, it created a little humility, as it would do to anybody. He is much more focused this year, much more comfortable with his environment, with out players and I think Mike Martz and he really hit it off early and there’s a strong relationship there built on trust and that’s critical for his development.
What else do you attribute this years defensive improvements to?
JA: Really, our defense, when you look at is very disciplined, very tough-minded and you could see that through their tacking and effort to the football. We play four quarters of defense. They’ve been resillient. They’ve bent. In some cases, they’ve broken, but they come back. That’s always a key to a really good defense. Are we a great defense? I can’t say we are a great defense but we are a very reslillient defense. I go back to our coaches. Rod Marinelli has done a great job. I’ve been with Rod. I know how Rod can impact a player, how he can impact a unit, I saw it first hand on the defensive line. He’s infectious. He’s had a strong influence on the guys.
What is this team's identity?
JA: We’re seeing it now. Now when we go out there we know what to look at and what to expect. It’ much easier to evaluate, much easier to develop and work on things. The last two weeks, after we came out of that bye, we have a much better compass on who we are.
What are your thoughts on Michael Vick's success?
JA: When you say you’re not surprised by anything, I’m still surprised that a guy can just come in and have a game like that. Again, it’s a testament to his hard work and athletic prowess and the good coaching he’s getting in Philadelphia. They’ve always done a great job. When you look at their tenure in Philadelphia it stands on it’s own merits. There’s a lot to be said for that. I’m just hoping it was a hot hand and he’s going to cool off.
Is this the offensive line you want in December?
JA: That’s the plan right now. They still have to continue to play well. There are still a couple works in progresson the offensive line. I don’t want to say the verdict is out. We’d like it to be. There’s no reason why it can’t be. Again, we’re still evaluating and we like some of the guys that are in the background right now. They’re antsy to get on the field. Guys have to perform. One of the things Lovie did this year with our team is reiterate that playing time isn’t a given. It has to be earned. That’s very, very important. It’s not just about the contract. It’s about playing time. Our guys get that and have done a real good job responding. Anytime we’ve had something bad happen to us it wasn’t for a lack of effort, it was just bad. That just happens. It can get better with continued work and confidence and obviously coaching. We’ve been getting that the last few weeks.
How tough was it to watch the Giants game?
JA: One word: Brutal. Absolutely, brutal. I can’t describe the pain. It doesn’t matter what you guys do, it doesn’t match the pain of watching that. It’s part of the game. You have to suck it up. You have to bounce back. That’s what you have to do in this game. You have to handle the downs. You have to. The downs come off the field as they do on the field. You have to stay resillient. If you don’t, you’re going to crash. there’s no other way. It’s a tough league. That’s the beauty of our game. It’s a challenge to everybody. That’s the greatness of it. If you can’t handle that, then it’s next.
What is going on Pisa Tinoisamoa's injury
JA: He should be fine. He’s had some medical issues that have been well documented. He has had something with his knee but we feel he will be fine. If we had the regular cyle of the week he might have been able to play on Sunday but having the short week we didn’t want to push it.
Is it the same knee?
JA: Yes, I believe it is the same knee. It’s manageable. We feel he’s going to be fine and everything will be up and going with him. He’s really had a fine year for us.
What are your thoughts on Lovie Smith's season?
JA: The same things we’ve seen every year from Lovie. He’s always been a great leader for us. I keep going back to that adversity, those storms, and he continues to create hope, and the guys rally around Lovie. You can say what you want to say. I’ve read everything that you’ve said. Most of it to me is unfair because the guy has really done and outstanding job of keeping the team together and that’s critical for a head coach in this league. You can’t minimize that.He doens’t get enough credit for that. We talk about the Cover 2, sometimes we talk about the anemic offense. We talk about a lot of things. Nobody ever says the things he really brings to the table and has brought to the table during his tenure and there has to be a lot of emphasis on that because it’s a very difficult job. We all know that. He’s done a great job of leading this team. I feel the staff has really galvanized in a short period of time with the newness of the coaches and hopefully we’ll see the fruits of all that during the second half of the season.
What are your thoughts on Tommie Harris season?
JA: I’m not going to use the word disappointed. I was hoping we would see more. Didn’t happen the way we thought. It would’ve been great because he was ready. He worked hard. Nothing short on his part. You couldn’t ask a guy to work any harder than he has worked in the offseason, during the season. It’s just not clicking. I don’t know how to say it other than that. I’m not giving up hope that it can’t because we still see the quickness and athlticism that you need to see in practice. Unfortunately, we’re not seeing it as much on Sunday. But it’s not a lack of effort, toughness, it has nothing to do with his work ethic and hopefully he’s going to turn the corner here.
How tough is the second half schedule?
JA: I don’t think we have to be any better. I just think we have to be consistent with what we do. I always say this when I head into a season. I’m not worried about our opponents, i’m not worried about the schedule. I’m worried about our team. If we’re a good team wins take care of themselves. I’ve always felt that. I’ve been in this league a long time. The good teams I’ve been on, we’ve had some murderous schedules and we come out at the end of the day a very good football team and I’ve looked at some schedules and said you know what, this is going to be a good thing for us and we’re picking ourselves off the mat. I really believe that in this league. You just focus on teh next opponent and be consistent at what you do. If you do that you’re going to win a lot of football games. You have to be a solid football team though. ... You’ve got to be sound and toughminded and you have to play hard on Sunday and that’s not always the case with all teams. That comes with the territory. Particularly at the halfpoint of the season because guys are hurt, a little sore, the media is beating the up a little bit, they’re getting stuf at home, it’s easy to go south right now. It’s really easy to go south. And if the record isn’t in your favor, you see that. Unfortunately, it happens. We’re human beings.
The worst case scenario would be if Atogwe lands in Minnesota, mentioned by ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter as a possible candidate.
The Vikings, as we know, do many things well defensively, in particular stopping the run and sacking the quarterback. Last year, Minnesota's defense ranked second in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game and sacks per pass play. That's what happens when your defensive line features Jared Allen, Ray Edwards, Kevin Williams and Pat Williams.
However, Minnesota isn't great defending the pass.
That's why pursuing Atogwe, at least on the surface, makes sense. He would be an instant upgrade over incumbent starters Madieu Williams and Tyrell Johnson, giving the Vikings a big-time playmaker in their secondary.
If Minnesota truly takes a pass, we know the Lions are desperate to address that position.
Reports claim Detroit may be interested in Atogwe but is leery about the safety's high salary demands. It's not a stretch to think Detroit remains the fourth-best team in the division, but in case you haven't noticed, the Lions are becoming much more competitive under head coach Jim Schwartz.
Pairing Atogwe -- 19 interceptions and 14 forced fumbles in five NFL seasons -- with promising second-year player Louis Delmas would give Detroit a nice combination at safety. The defense already added Kyle Vanden Bosch and rookie Ndamukong Suh, and the offense is already capable of scoring (Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford and Tony Scheffler). Bottom line, signing Atogwe won't put the Lions in the playoffs, but it would keep pushing them up the road to respectability.
One player doesn't tip the scales of a division race, but it's worth watching where Atogwe winds up. Even if the Bears are out of the running.
The Bears hired Martz as their offensive coordinator during the offseason, and no tight end under Martz has caught more than 38 passes in a season. Olsen led the Bears with 60 catches in 2009, but his blocking has been suspect.
So when the Bears brought in tight end Brandon Manumaleuna, who's known as a strong blocker, Olsen's future with the Bears seemed murky.
There were reports that Olsen was unhappy with his situation on the Bears.
"So far I have a great feeling about my role this year," Olsen tweeted Friday. "I have no desire to play anywhere but in Chicago.
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Clark, who turns 33 later this month, may be on the outside looking in if the Bears decide to keep only three tight ends, when you consider the money paid to Brandon Manumaleuna and Kellen Davis’ draft status.
Some have portrayed Clark’s absence this week from voluntary workouts as meaningless and random, which is not true. Any 12-year veteran would be upset about being third- or fourth-string, especially a player such as Clark, who has been very productive since joining the Bears in 2004.
However, missing a week of workouts in early April is not on the same level, as say, boycotting mini-camp, OTAs or training camp. I haven’t heard anything to suggest Clark is going to take that route. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back at Halas Hall on Monday. Coach Lovie Smith is known to have a strong bond with the majority of his players, and for that reason, Clark may want to return and see if the coaching staff can/will design a role for him in Mike Martz’s offense.
But even if Clark rejoins his teammates next week, this could still be a fluid situation, since it’s obvious certain front office members view the tight end as expendable.
A:I think Aromashodu could indeed have a solid season, and you're absolutely correct when it comes to his on-field rapport with Cutler. What I like about Aromashodu is that he cleans up mistakes: passes don't have to be perfectly thrown because he can go get the ball. I'm sure that's a major reason Cutler is such a fan, because as we all know, he had the luxury of working with a bigger receiver (Brandon Marshall) in Denver. If Aromashodu can learn the Mike Martz offense and continue to work hard, he'll be a valuable weapon. One more player to keep an eye on is Matt Forte. Trust me, don't sleep on Forte just because the Bears signed Chester Taylor. My guess is Forte is more motivated than ever to prove his critics wrong after an injury plagued/mediocre 2009 season, and because of his versatility in the backfield, should do well under Martz.
Q: You give Jerry Angelo a lot of grief, why don't you ever talk about some of the good moves he's made on draft day? A little balance would be nice and long overdue. -- Larry, Deerfield, Ill.
A: You're right, I did recently lay out some of the poor high draft choices since 2002 -- Michael Haynes, Roosevelt Williams, Cedric Benson, Mark Bradley, Dan Bazuin, Michael Okwo, etc -- so it's only fair to acknowledge some of the good moves made by the Bears general manager. Personally, I feel the selections of Charles Tillman [second round] and Lance Briggs [third round] in 2003 was the high point for Angelo in Chicago. But I also applaud the picks of Bernard Berrian [third round, 2004], Kyle Orton [fourth round, 2005], Devin Hester (second round, 2006], Alex Brown [fourth round, 2002], Zack Bowman [fourth round, 2008] and Johnny Knox [fifth round, 2009]. We've also seen positive glimpses from Greg Olsen, Chris Williams, Earl Bennett, Forte and Danieal Manning, so hopefully some of these players can take that next step this upcoming fall. Not everything has been negative from a draft standpoint, but let's be real, there have been a lot more misses than hits in the last five years.
Q: When is this team going to get serious and add some help at safety? Look at the Giants, they had problems at safety, and they got Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant. What are the Bears waiting for? -- Michael H., Oak Forest, Ill.
A: Relax for a second when it comes to safety. Yes, the Bears need to upgrade the position [badly], but there's no need to rush out and sign any of these remaining free-agent veterans, because most, if not all, will still be available after the draft. Remember, this is a very deep draft at safety, and I anticipate the Bears will take at least one safety before it's all said and done. Then, if they're still not satisfied, maybe they explore adding another veteran. Also, don't discount the possibility that a talented safety gets cut loose by a team in May or June. Look, if the season started tomorrow, the Bears would be in a lot of trouble in the secondary, but the good news is they have months and months to get it sorted out.
Q: Any chance the Bears bring Alex Brown back at a lower rate if he finds the market isn't particularly good? I don't think that he is above that. He is very humble and seems to love Chicago and the fans [it's mutual]. I doubt the Bears would try it because they tend to stick to their decisions to the death. Just wondering if that was even a possibility. -- Drew, St. Louis
A:That a very noble idea Drew, but unfortunately, I don't see any chance Brown re-signs with the Bears at a lower cost. In fact, Brown is reportedly generating some major interest around the league this week -- he's too good of a player to be unemployed for long. Brown has always been loyal and humble, but this is business, and the defensive end needs to make the best business decision he can for his career and family. Coming back to the Bears doesn't seem to be in the cards.
Q: So if Lance Louis doesn't get suspended to start the year, will he start at left guard? I was holding out hope for Rob Simms, but what happens if the Bears don't bring in an experienced guard? -- Brad S., Wauconda, Ill.
A: First of all, I don't excuse anything Louis allegadly did to his former college teammate, but that was before Louis entered the NFL, so I really don't understand why the league would get involved. To me, that's between Louis, his accuser and the courts. As for Louis' potential on the field, the Bears obviously think he has a bright future, and will no doubt give the former seventh-round pick an opportunity to earn some playing time. Personally, I'd like to see the Bears upgrade the guard spot via free agency and the draft, but if they fail in that regard, Louis certainly has a shot. I remain a fan of Josh Beekman, but sometimes feel like I'm the only one fighing that battle. Nobody gets to the second level of defenders better or faster than Beekman, who got unfairly pushed aside last season in favor of Frank Omiyale, but the Bears clearly have reservations about his size. Former practice squad member Johan Asiata may also jump into the mix if the Bears don't add another body or two inside.
The Seahawks recently informed Sims he was being shopped and they were hoping to get three teams involved. The Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions have expressed interest in Sims and, according to a source, the Philadelphia Eagles might also be interested.
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Great, another tweet. And this one carrying even worse news than Oney Guillen leaving the White Sox, if you can believe it.
But at least we don't have to do too much deciphering to spot a good-bye. Chicago Bears defensive end Alex Brown made it official Wednesday by thanking the team that cut him loose and wishing the organization the best.
Brown wrote off his apparent exit from the Bears as "the nature of the business" and did not reveal any bitter feelings as he tweeted, "Bear down!"
If he could have sung one last verse of the team fight song, I'm quite certain he would have, for that's the kind of guy he is. But most teams these days don't put much of a premium on dependable players and stand-up people.
They want more. More production. More for their money. More evidence that as high-powered executives, they're doing their jobs when in most cases, less is more.
In Brown's situation, a little hand-wringing is fair game. For all the sacks he didn't ring up, you knew what you were going to get from him each day, each practice, each season. Dependability. Durability. No surprises. On a defense that is a far cry from the league elite, above-average known quantities like the eight-year veteran should be considered gold.
But the Bears, in that arrogant way they have, will roll the dice that Mark Anderson will somehow snap back into the carefree rookie who had 12 sacks in 2006, as opposed to the guy who has disappeared since then, handing the starting job back to Brown, who never deserved to have it taken away in the first place.
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"I am extremely grateful for my time as a Chicago Bear and I wish the Bears the best," Brown tweeted. "I am glad that they gave me an opportunity to realize a dream I had as a child. I appreciate the fans but as we all know this is the nature of the business. Bear down!"
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Brown, 30, has 35½ sacks since 2004 and has been one of the Bears' most consistent performers.
But Chicago signed free-agent defensive end Julius Peppers, moved Israel Idonije from tackle to end and is still high on Mark Anderson, so Brown has become expendable.
It's also possible the Bears will move one of their young interior linemen, either Henry Melton or Jarron Gilbert, to the outside.
Brown was a fourth-round pick in 2002 and was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2006 and 2007.