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|Pisa Tinoisamoa had an injury-plagued 2009, but he could be an important contributor next season.|
The strongest individual position group for the Bears last season was at linebacker, and by the looks of it, that may also hold true for 2010. Bringing back veteran Pisa Tinoisamoa -- who agreed to a one-year deal Monday --is a wise move on many levels, even though Nick Roach and Hunter Hillenmeyer are talented enough to start for many other teams in the NFL.
In Tinoisamoa, the Bears have a very athletic linebacker with tons of playmaking ability, who also happens to be a stellar special teams contributor. Bears fans only got a brief glimpse of Tinoisamoa in 2009, but even in limited time, the linebacker's talents stood out to coaches and teammates.
So what's going to happen at strongside linebacker this fall?
The best route would be for Tinoisamoa, Roach and Hillenmeyer -- I'm not including Jamar Williams because he's a much better weakside linebacker -- to battle it out for the starting job in Bourbonnais. Let the best man win. Why not? It's not like any of the three are making ridiculous amounts of money, or are locked into long term deals -- Tinoisamoa signed a 1-year deal, Roach is a restricted free agent and Hillenmeyer is under contract through 2011. The other nice thing about this trio; egos probably won't get in the way. While some players balk at the idea of actually having to earn their job during training camp, all three of these linebackers have been down this road before, especially Hillenmeyer, who it seems like the Bears have been trying to replace since the Super Bowl.
On that note, perhaps re-signing Tinoisamoa gives the Bears a little more flexibility to shop Hillenmeyer before the draft. After all, Hillenmeyer is coming off maybe his best year -- 105 total tackles, 4 forced fumbles and 2.5 sacks -- and would be a solid addition to several teams around the league in need of help at linebacker.
This move Monday won't elicit the same type of fan hysteria we saw when Julius Peppers and Chester Taylor were signed, but retaining Tinoisamoa is a major positive for the Bears. If he can stay healthy, this may turn out to be one of the most significant moves of the offseason.