The chances of Vernon Carey heading north

February, 19, 2009
2/19/09
4:59
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

 
  Scott Boehm/Getty Images
  If he becomes a free agent, Vernon Carey would arguably be the top right tackle available.

INDIANAPOLIS -- It's probably a long shot, but I'm sure Chicago officials took note Thursday when Miami coach Tony Sparano said the team wouldn't use its franchise tag this year. Among other things, that means offensive lineman Vernon Carey -- who started all 16 games at right tackle last season -- is a week away from free agency.

If he makes it that far, Carey would arguably be the top right tackle available for a Bears team that probably needs a new starter if John Tait follows through on his plans to retire.

Carey also has played left tackle and guard in his career, but he made a successful shift to the right side in 2008 after the Dolphins drafted Jake Long. Scouts Inc. considers Carey a "good starter" with a grade of 76. Here is Scouts' full report on him:

Carey has been a mainstay on Miami's offensive line, since entering the league in 2004. His toughness, strength, athleticism and durability have been excellent. He has versatility because he has been effective at both tackle positions as well as guard. He has good initial quickness to gain leverage on defenders with a powerful punch to stymie his opponent at the point of attack. He is a solid technician who uses his hands to maintain body position and lock on defenders throughout the play. He is an instinctive player who reacts well to stunts and twists. He has excellent haunch power to anchor versus bull-rushers. He does a nice job double teaming defenders off the line of scrimmage and chipping up to the second level. He stays connected on the second level with good hand use, foot agility and effort. Carey doesn't have great lateral agility versus top pass-rushers, but needs to engage early in the play to be effective reacting to quick counters or speed moves on the edge.

Minnesota might also be considering its options in the event Carey enters free agency. It's well-known that right tackle is an area of weakness for the Vikings. It should also be noted that Minnesota vice president Rick Spielman drafted Carey in 2004 when he was in the Dolphins' front office.

Here's what Spielman said Thursday when asked about the right tackle position: "As we went through our evaluations, there is not a position -- I don't think -- that we would not look at to try to get better."

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