- Jeff Dickerson, ESPN Staff Writer
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A: I’m sure Owens would love a job in Chicago, but the Bears probably aren’t on board with the idea. At 36-years-old, Owens still caught 55 passes for Buffalo last season, so it’s not a case of the wide receiver necessarily being washed up. The issue here is that Owens is a reputed locker room cancer, who publically complains and pouts when he feels underutilized in an offense. Adding that ‘me-first’ mentality to a meeting room full of impressionable young receivers would be disastrous. What the Bears need, in my opinion, is to sign a veteran who already understands the Mike Martz system, and would be happy to play for the league minimum while helping Devin Hester, Johnny Knox, Devin Aromashodu and Earl Bennett digest the new system. Since this player would probably replace Rashied Davis on the roster, he must be a special teams contributor. Owens doesn’t strike me as the mentor type who would play for a smaller salary, or a guy who could bring anything to the table on special teams. Finally, Chicago is an amazing city, where professional athletes frequently visit on vacation. Owens could have million reasons for being in town, but agreeing to a contract with the Bears isn’t one of them.
Q: JD, what about the Bears making a run at Adalius Thomas? Any chance he could hook up with the Bears and play strong side linebacker? That guy was a beast for New England. Thanks. – Andrew T., Crestwood, IL.
A: Once again, I just don’t see a fit here in Chicago for Thomas, who did play like a ‘beast’ for the Ravens and Patriots for roughly a four-year stretch. However, Thomas is best suited to play in a 3-4 defense, not the Cover 2. Lovie Smith needs fast linebackers in his system, not guys who are 6-2, 270 pounds. Nothing against Thomas, who’s been an excellent performer during his career, but I don’t see any scenario that puts him with the Bears. When Thomas does resurface, look for him to sign with a 3-4 team like the Jets, Dolphins or 49ers.
Q: God forbid Jay Cutler gets injured this year. If he does, the season is a wrap with our current back-ups. Why are the Bears gauging interest from Trent "concussion" Green instead of signing a proven Marc Bulger? – Ryan Grace, Chicago, IL.
A: Ryan, I highly doubt it’s a case of the Bears not wanting Marc Bulger. If Bulger was cool with holding a clipboard for the entire year, then he’d probably make the best backup quarterback in the league. But what if Bulger still views himself as a starter? If that’s the case (which it probably is) then Chicago really isn’t a good spot for the former Rams quarterback. The Bears don’t want any competition or controversy at the quarterback position. Period. This is Cutler’s team, and they will sink or swim with him under center (barring injury, of course). You don’t give up two first-round picks for a guy only to bench him in year number two. I understand the sense of urgency to win at Halas Hall, but they went all-in when acquiring Cutler. He’s the guy and it’s too late now to back out. That’s why they are looking at guys like Trent Green. But I should point out Caleb Hanie performed well at minicamp, so I’ll be curious to keep monitoring his development during organized team activities.
Q: Jeff, I’ve been meaning to light you up on this for about a week. I heard you say Zack Bowman is the number one cornerback on the Bears. What are you talking about? Did they trade Peanut Tillman without telling us? – Manny, Chicago, IL.
A: Just so there’s no confusion: Zack Bowman is the NUMBER ONE cornerback on the Bears. It’s happened. Bowman will always be dogged by health concerns, which is understandable given his history, but right now, he is the best player at his position. His combination of size and speed, plus an uncanny ability to be around the football, gives Bowman a realistic shot to eclipse six interceptions –- his total from 2009. Tillman can still play –- although I still don’t quite understand his decision to skip voluntary workouts -– but the years have taken a toll on this body. I have tremendous respect for Tillman the football player, especially after he managed to start versus Green Bay last year despite limited practice time and two offseason surgeries. But at this point in their respective careers, Bowman is the more talented player.
Q: Who, from a player standpoint, stood out the most at minicamp? – Max, Highland Park, IL.
A: It was tough to overlook Matt Forte. For the first time since 2008, he looked healthy, running with that same burst we saw in his rookie season. People were quick to write off Forte after the Bears signed Chester Taylor, which is a mistake. Remember, one key element for running backs in Martz’s offense is pass-catching ability, and Forte has 120 receptions in two seasons. If the offensive line is better (it should be) and Forte stays healthy (he’s off to a good start), he’ll be the top comeback story of 2010.