Bears mailbag: Back by popular demand


Since I wasn't able to put together a mailbag item last week from the Super Bowl, I thought a second mailbag installment was appropriate this week.

Q: Should the hiring of Mike Martz attract some talent to the offensive line in the free agent market? -- Todd Schools.

A: That's tough to say, because playing offensive line in Martz's system has historically been viewed as a difficult assignment. Kyle Turley (not the biggest Martz fan) said last week the biggest challenge was always being asked to pass block, since Martz relies heavily on throwing the football. If you can't pass block, you really can't play in this offense, so that would probably weed out some potential additions via free agency and the draft. The good news is that Frank Omiyale should be much better off this year, especially if the Bears move him to right tackle as expected. It'll be interesting to see who steps in or is signed/drafted to play left guard, but whoever gets the nod better be able to buy Jay Cutler some time in the pocket, because that will be a prerequisite to play that position.

Q: What do you think about the Bears taking a look at LaDainian Tomlinson? Based on what I've been reading, seems like the Chargers are pretty much done with him. He definitely has some gas left in the tank, and with the new system that Mike Martz is going to implement (with the back being primarily used for screen and short yardage passes), I think LT can still make people miss in the open field and be a huge asset for the Bears. -- Chris Delaney, Arlington Heights, IL.

A: I agree, Tomlinson would be an excellent addition to the Bears' offense. At 30 years old, LT might not be able to do the heavy lifting anymore -- he had a career low 223 carries in 2009 -- but he has an uncanny knack for finding the endzone. Tomlinson has scored 138 regular season rushing touchdowns -- 12 last season -- and would be a huge boost for a Bears team that struggled so badly in the redzone last year. Plus, as you pointed out, LT can catch the ball out of the backfield, recording 50 or more receptions in each of his first seven seasons. Obviously, I have no idea if Tomlinson is open to the idea of coming to Chicago and splitting time with Matt Forte, but if that idea is well received, I'd strongly consider LT. Chester Taylor is probably the ideal choice because he doesn't have as many miles -- 1,028 career regular season carries versus Tomlinson’s 2,880 -- but if Taylor isn't attainable, LT seems like a perfect Plan B.

Q: Do you think that there is any chance the Bears could try to go after Bob Sanders? -- Rob, Canada.

A: That doesn't seem likely because there's been no indication the Colts will cut Sanders, who signed a 5-year extension near the end of 2007. Injuries have been a major issue with Sanders -- he's only played in eight regular season games over the past two years -- but here's a quote I found from Indianapolis general manager Bill Polian on the Colts' official website:

"There's no way we would cut Bob Sanders unless he's completely incapable of playing, and I don't think that that's the case. I think he'll be back better than ever as the saying goes next summer. I see no situation where we would cut him."

Polian made those comments back in November, so unless something has radically changed, I don't see Sanders being an option for the Bears.

Q: What's the problem with Mark Anderson? Can this guy still play? -- Christopher, Richmond, VA.

A: Anderson is a situational pass-rusher. End of story. I thought his former Alabama teammate and current New Orleans safety Roman Harper provided some nice insight on the Bears' defensive end last week in South Florida. Once again, the Bears did a poor job of properly identifying the talent on their roster, and screwed up royally by pushing Anderson ahead of Alex Brown in 2007. Even though the Bears eventually rectified their mistake, Anderson was never able to regain the form we saw in 2006, and only has 9.5 sacks the last three years combined. However, I thought he played a little better down the stretch last year, so I wouldn't completely write him off. But the Bears need a dominating left defensive end, and I just don't see that guy currently on the roster.

Q: Are the Bears going to bring back Tim Shaw? I thought he did a great job on special teams last year, and may be a future Brendon Ayanbadejo. What do you think?

A: This one is a no-brainer; Shaw will be back with the Bears in 2010. Because Shaw only has two accrued seasons in the NFL he's labeled as an exclusive rights free agent. His 2008 stint in Jacksonville does qualify as a credited season, but because he only played in three games it does not qualify as an accrued season. The Bears are expected to tender him at the three year veteran minimum salary, $545,000 according to NFLPA records. Since exclusive rights free agents are unable to negotiate with other teams, there's really no other option for Shaw -- which is a good thing for Bears' fans. Teams have until March 4 to submit their offers to all exclusive rights free agents.