Chat with Michael Wright
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN NFL Nation Chicago Bears reporter Michael C. Wright drops by to chat and answer all of your Bears questions.
Wright joined ESPNChicago.com in April 2010 after spending the previous four seasons covering the Jaguars. He also covered the Redskins for two seasons. A native Texan, Wright was a four-year football letterman at West Texas A&M University.
Send your questions now and join Wright Monday at 1 p.m. ET!
Michael (1:01 PM)
If I'm not mistaken, this marks our first chat since the start of free agency. So over these next 30 minutes, I'm sure you guys have tons of questions. Let's get to them.
Why is Chris Conte still on the Team? Any reports on his vision getting checked out? He seemed to miss a lot of tackles last year; maybe his eyes were closed?
Michael (1:05 PM)
Joel, closing your eyes right before the moment of truth will cause you to miss tackles. Believe it or not, it happens more often than you think and on every level of the game. Now as for you question as to why Chris Conte is still on the team, I'd say because he's still a talent. Sure, he had a tough year, but lots of guys on that defense did. Conte is going into the final year of his original rookie deal and will count $1.522 million against the cap for 2014, which is a very manageable number. So Conte will have plenty of incentive to put together a strong season, and I think he's certainly capable of it. Conte is one of the more talented athletes in that secondary, believe it or not. I think he sort of lost confidence down the stretch. Having said that, I believe he'll bounce back to put together a strong 2014 season.
eric dixon (chicago)
do you believe we need a proven safety and defensive end
Michael (1:07 PM)
Eric, I do think they need to add a safety at some point in the draft or in free agency. They need to make that position as competitive as possible at training camp. As for defensive end, I think the Bears added a couple in Lamarr Houston and Willie Young, and based on their salaries, they're starters. Do the Bears need to add depth at that position? Definitely. I think the team is trying to do that. That's part of the reason why Israel Idonije will be visiting Halas Hall on Tuesday.
Do you think Willie Young has more upside than Wooten. I thought when healthy at the beginning of the year and playing DE Wooten was developing nicely. Plus he has the versatility and selfless attitude to play inside when injuries dictate. Just not sure Young is an upgrade?
Michael (1:10 PM)
Ed, I'm not sure Young is an upgrade either. But I also haven't studied and compared Wootton and Young on tape. Personnel people try to find that sweet spot between a player's ascension and peak when trying to identify prospects in free agency. I think in Young, the Bears have identified a player whose best football is ahead of him. I like Wootton as a player, too. It seemed like the light finally came on for him last season. But at the same time, I didn't feel like he sustained the momentum he generated in training camp and the preseason. That hip injury obviously makes for question marks, too. It's not supposed to be serious. But I'm a little surprised the Bears haven't re-signed him.
Peppers on an off year in which he was injured and constantly double teamed had 7 sacks and a healthy Lamar Houston only had 6. Also, there is Willie Young who is virtually the same player as Wootton except two years older. This is happening while Green Bay and Detroit are getting better. Have the bears really gotten better or are they making lateral moves with no real progress?
Michael (1:12 PM)
Peter, on the surface, your perception is definitely how it looks at this point. But the problem with our outside perception is that we don't know exactly what Chicago is planning on doing on defense next season. This could be a case where Houston and Young are perfect fits for what the Bears will be doing next season, while Wootton maybe isn't. Besides that, the Bears aren't done making moves by a longshot in my opinion. There are still some holes and the Bears still need to add depth. But let's not be too hard on the Bears until we see the results on the field. It's way too early in the game for that.
Do you think the Bears are finished signing more FA?
Michael (1:13 PM)
Anthony, I don't think they're done. As the second and third wave of free agency approach, my guess is there are going to be plenty of bargains to be had. My guess is also that the Bears will be primed to jump on those bargains. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the Bears ended up finding a starter in the second or third wave of free agency.
I know its only free agency, but did the defense really get better? Aside from the D-Line there seems to be the same players from last seasons less than stellar defense
Michael (1:17 PM)
I always have a hard time with saying a team got better or worse through free agency or the draft because we really won't know until the games are played. I remember last year saying the Bears would finish the 2013 season with an 8-8 record and the fans killed me because they had just come off a 10-6 season. The fans looked at all the weapons the Bears added on offense and the new coaches and wondered how they could get worse. I looked at a new coaching staff coming in, and how the team would have to learn a new offense and work with a new coordinator. A team's win/loss record is dependent on way more than just the personnel in my opinion.
Can the Bears only sign players to the minimum and vet minimum now? Seems like they spent most of their cap room on Houston and absorbing Peppers full dead money this year.
Michael (1:18 PM)
No, they've got enough cap room to actually spend if they chose to. But they've also got to keep a reserve for the draft picks.
Jason Ford (South Carolina)
Has Devin Hester drawn any interest from any teams? and why wouldn't the bears re-sign him for the same role he had last year as a kick/punt returner?
Michael (1:20 PM)
I think the Bears made it clear when they put out the statement thanking Hester for all his contributions that there's probably no chance of him returning. I think the Bears just wanted to go a different direction. I don't know exactly how many teams are interested, but Hester recently told reporters in Florida that several teams are in the hunt for his services.
Can you explain when the second and third wave of free agency is?
Michael (1:24 PM)
Well, that first wave of free agency is what we've just seen; when teams spend big on some of the top players on the market. Players such as Julius Peppers, DeMarcus Ware and Jared Allen were available, but you saw only Peppers and Ware were snatched up in that first wave. In the second wave, you'll see established guys that wanted big contracts starting to take less because they've realized that the market for them isn't what they expected. Then, in the third wave, you see veterans just looking for an opportunity. That's when you see established guys in May or June signing those one-year prove-it deals. I hope that explains it. It's kind of difficult to explain.
Dillon (Washington, DC)
Hey Michael--I read Idonije is visiting with the Bears office today. What are the odds he rejoins the Monsters of the Midway? Thanks!
Michael (1:25 PM)
Dillon, Idonije will be at Halas on Tuesday and he'll take a physical. The team is hopeful they can bring him aboard. He's a versatile player and would be a great locker room presence for some of the younger guys.
mike jones (NJ)
in the draft what are some good Free safety that the bears can get??? Also do you think jared allen will come to the bears???
Michael (1:27 PM)
Mike, I'll never say never. But I don't see the Bears signing Jared Allen. As for potential free safeties, there's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix out of Alabama, Louisville's Calvin Pryor and I also like Jimmie Ward out of Northern Illinois, but he's more of a strong safety prospect.
Chauncey (Swag City) [via mobile]
Who are the bears planning to replace josh mccown with?
Michael (1:29 PM)
The Bears are pretty confident that Jordan Palmer can serve as the No. 2 quarterback, in part because of the way he handled playing last preseason with very little prep time. But Phil Emery said not to count out the club potentially drafting a quarterback at some point. Emery also said the Bears would be bringing in tons of guys in for workouts at Halas in between now and the draft.
Oliver C. (Oak Park)
Do you have an idea why Melton hasn't signed anywhere yet? Is he just asking for too much money or is there an issue with his ACL recovery?
Michael (1:31 PM)
Oliver, I've heard that his asking price is a little steep at this point, and there are also concerns about that ACL. As the market continues to unfold for him, my guess is Melton will come down off his salary demands. If he wants to return to Chicago, he'd better do it quickly before all the money dries up.
Does the Bears current free agent acquisitions thus far affect who they are going to draft?
Michael (1:34 PM)
Absolutely they do, Raymond. But perhaps the good news is the Bears probably aren't even close to being done in free agency. Obviously, the Bears have plenty of holes to fill on defense and they'll continue to work to address them. But even if the Bears find a way to add several more players on defense, I think the draft will still be heavily focused on addressing that side of the ball.
Michael (1:35 PM)
Guys, that's my time. I appreciate you coming by to chat. If I couldn't get to your question, make sure to hit me up on Twitter (@mikecwright). I do a Twitter mailbag that runs on Saturday's so if you have a question, make sure to use the hashtag #bearsmailbag