Bears trying to upgrade offensive line
March, 12, 2013
By Michael C. Wright | ESPNChicago.com
Marc Serota/Getty ImagesJake Long is expected to have a big price tag which could be risky for a player with recent injury problems.Let's preface this by saying the stat about to come next isn't solely about Bears left tackle J'Marcus Webb, as much as it is about the need to upgrade the offensive line as a whole.
With free agency set to start Tuesday, several reports have circulated about the team expressing interest in players such as New Orleans'
Jermon Bushrod, and Miami's Jake Long. It's worth noting that under previous general manager Jerry Angelo, the Bears made an unsuccessful run in 2011 at Bushrod, who eventually re-signed with the Saints.
Meanwhile, it's unclear whether the interest in Long is genuine considering the fact his last two seasons ended with injuries, not to mention he could command a salary in the $10 million-per-year range.
According to sources, the Bears did actually make some inquiries about veteran guard Brandon Moore of the New York Jets to help firm up the interior of the offensive line.
A former standout at Illinois, Moore is considered the highest-rated interior lineman available in free agency, and his age (32) isn't expected to be a deterrent because the Bears would look to structure a deal that makes sense for the franchise.
Younger free agents at guard such as Buffalo's Andy Levitre and San Diego's Louis Vasquez should be able to command in the $7 million-per-year range, while the high end for Moore would likely fall into the $6 million range, with the low end hitting somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 million. According to an NFL source, the Bears have already bowed out of the Vasquez sweepstakes, even though they expressed interest initially.
With approximately $7 million in available cap space as Tuesday morning, the Bears wouldn't have a problem landing one of the premier offensive linemen because they could structure a deal to fit him under the cap. But such a move would limit what the team could do in terms of re-signing its own free agents such as linebacker Brian Urlacher, defensive end Israel Idonije, guard Lance Louis or cornerback Kelvin Hayden, who could all hit the market once the signing period begins.
New Bears coach Marc Trestman has made it clear the team will place a premium on protecting quarterback Jay Cutler, and we're guessing the team will make that apparent once free agency starts with the moves it makes.