Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Bears interested in Jaguars LB Durant
By Michael C. Wright
Justin Durant has started in 42 career games with the Jaguars at every linebacker position.
In their attempts to add competition for the starting spot at strong-side linebacker, the Chicago Bears reached out Tuesday -- the day teams were officially allowed to contact other teams’ free agents -- to Jaguars unrestricted free agent Justin Durant.
The Chicago Tribune originally reported the Bears’ interest in Durant. But the team has shown interest for quite some time, according to multiple sources.
The problem for the Bears, however, is they appear to have plenty of competition for Durant’s services. According to two NFL sources, seven teams -- including three in the NFC North -- have already contacted Durant and his representatives in an attempt to strike a deal, and the linebacker is still mulling his options.
Bears coach Lovie Smith said during the NFL owners meetings in March that the club planned to bring in multiple linebackers, including potential candidates to start alongside Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. As of right now, Urlacher and Briggs are the only linebackers under contract. But the team hopes to re-sign free agent Nick Roach and Brian Iwuh.
According to a league source, the Bears' desire to upgrade at linebacker doesn't mean they don't want Roach back. But it could indicate the Bears envision Roach staying in the same role last year as a fill-in linebacker/special teamer.
Tinoisamoa, meanwhile, is also an option being discussed within the organization.
A second-round pick out of Hampton and the younger brother of Canadian League quarterback Darian Durant, Justin Durant (6-foot-1, 240 pounds) started nine games last season, and posted 55 tackles. Nagging injuries limited Durant to just 10 games last year, and have been somewhat of a hindrance throughout his four-year career.
Durant has started in 42 career games with the Jaguars at every linebacker position, which would appear to be a plus for the Bears who value versatility, and has also been a top contributor on special teams.
While the Bears could officially contact all free agents on Tuesday, they won’t be able to sign them until Friday.
ESPNChicago.com's Jeff Dickerson contributed to this report.