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Orlando Pace visiting the Bears

3/30/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Free-agent offensive lineman Orlando Pace was scheduled to visit Chicago on Monday, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation.

Pace
Pace, a seven-time Pro Bowler, was released by St. Louis earlier this month. He primarily played left tackle during his career with the Rams but most NFL teams are projecting him as a right tackle for 2009.

Pace, 33, missed 25 games over the past three seasons because of various injuries. The Bears could simply be checking up on his health, or they could have genuine interest.

The timing of Pace's visit is interesting, considering the Bears signed free agent Kevin Shaffer last week ostensibly to serve as their right tackle. If Pace were to sign, Shaffer could provide some high-priced insurance at both tackle positions. The Bears are planning to start second-year player Chris Williams at left tackle.

Including Williams, the Bears seem likely to three new starters along the offensive line in 2009. Frank Omiyale could start at left guard, and there will be a new right tackle in some fashion to replace the retired John Tait.

Pace has also visited the Baltimore Ravens. He is by far the highest-profile free agent known to have visited Chicago's Halas Hall this offseason. Here is what Scouts Inc.'s Jeremy Green said recently about Pace's prospects for moving to right tackle at this point in his career.

"I think he could play right tackle and it might almost be better for him to play right tackle. He's not going to be as physical in the running game as you might like, but he's also not going to be facing the opponents' best speed rusher like he was on the left side. He has really struggled with some guys that can really rush the passer. It was getting to the point where guys were running around him. But even if he's at 80 percent, I think he can handle the guys on the other side. You could do a lot worse than having a player who is 80 percent of what Orlando Pace once was, especially on the right side."

One update: Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch points out that Bears coach Lovie Smith was the Rams' defensive coordinator for three of Pace's seasons in St. Louis.