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Monday, March 12, 2012
Have at It: The Bears and Mario Williams

By Kevin Seifert

The question has arisen in our SportsNation chats, in the mailbag, on Twitter and Facebook. And each time you've asked if the Chicago Bears would pursue free agent defensive end Mario Williams, my answer has been the same. It's hard to imagine the Bears committing to a sky-high priced defensive end when they already have defensive end Julius Peppers signed to a deal that calls for cap numbers increasing from $12.4 million this season to $19.7 million in 2015.

Mario Williams
Mario Williams could form a fearsome pass-rushing tandem with Julius Peppers, if the Bears were to land the free agent.
There's nothing wrong with having two elite defensive ends, even if they account for upwards of 30 percent of your total cap space, as a Peppers-Williams pairing might. But the Bears would appear to have too many other needs -- receiver tops among them -- to afford that luxury. But in this reasoned column, Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune considers the issue from another perspective.
Pompei: "It's true the Bears would have an inordinate investment in their defensive ends if they signed Williams. But collecting pass-rushers didn't hurt the Super Bowl champion Giants. The Lions have quite a group, too. As the subjects of the A&E series "Hoarders" might attest, you can't have too much of a good thing -- especially pass-rushers, and especially given the defensive and team philosophies the Bears subscribe to. A defensive end's value is much greater than that of a wide receiver to the Bears. It's true a great quarterback can make his receivers better. On the other side of the ball, it's the end who makes his teammates better. Many teams have won big without star receivers. Few have won without a pass rush that keeps quarterbacks up at night and down during games."

The Bears will have between $20 million and $25 million in cap space to work with, but I'm not ready to change my mind yet on how they should use it. I'm also not convinced that new general manager Phil Emery will be a front-line player on the free agent market.

But I reserve the right to change my mind, and as a result your thoughts are welcome in a very special offseason edition of Have at It. Let me know if you would be in favor of the Bears pursuing and signing Williams, even at the expense of other positions on their roster, and we'll circle back on the issue Tuesday morning while we're killing time and waiting for the 4 p.m. ET start of free agency. Have at It.