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March 25, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Michael Wright

Michael
  (1:01 PM)

Hello folks, back from a short vacation and ready to roll. The Bears indeed appear to be a team in the midst of some interesting transition defensively. So fire away with the questions.

Miguel Chicago [via mobile]

Are the Bears Super Bowl contenders?

Michael
  (1:03 PM)

My man, all 32 teams are in contention for the Super Bowl at this point, and some teams have better chances than others. I'd put the Bears in the top half of the league in terms of favorites to go to the big show.

Mark S. (Palatine)

I would hate to see the Bears trade completely out of the first round, but what would you think of trading the #20 pick to SF for #31 and #61?

Michael
  (1:06 PM)

Mark, they could trade completely out of Round 1 and still be able to land some talented players in my opinion. I keep hearing a lot of talk about linebackers and offensive linemen, but I really think the Bears also need to draft a cornerback. In fact, I know the Bears have told some people they plan on adding a cornerback at some point in the draft. Even in the second round, I think you'd have some viable candidates that would push guys for those inside OL spots. I also think you have to plan for the future at linebacker. Anyway, I'm getting long-winded here. I like your suggestion, but what I'm saying is that even if they traded completely out of the first round, the Bears could still land guys capable of helping immediately.

Anthony (Homewood )

Do you have any updates on OG Lance Louis? Also, what a are the bears going to try to do to replace Johnny Knox

Michael
  (1:10 PM)

Anthony, Knox was replaced last season my man. The Bears pretty much knew there was no hope for him ever playing again, but they needed him to be able to come to grips with it. As for Louis, I haven't heard anything aside from him visiting another team. The Bears have some leverage with Louis because he's coming off an injury, and the fact that the free-agency money has basically dried up at this point. Going elsewhere won't land Louis a lucrative deal at this point. So he may be forced to take a one-year "prove it" type of deal from the Bears; that is if the team is so inclined to offer one. I haven't heard much about the team's interest level in bringing back Louis. But I definitely think he was one of the better performers on that OL last year.

DUSTY (BLOOMINGTON IL)

DO YOU BELIEVE THE BEARS HAVE UP GRADED ATHLETICALLY AT LB

Michael
  (1:13 PM)

No need for all-caps, man. But absolutely I believe they've upgraded athletically. In fact, I was planning to study up on some stuff, and put something out about that tomorrow. D.J. Williams and James Anderson almost instantly upgrade the Bears LBs atletically. Both are fairly young (I know, D.J. is 30), and both can run well. I'm not Williams fits the mold of the prototypical Tampa 2 Mike that can cover the middle third of the field. But as I've said in the past, I think the Bears will shift to a more traditional 4-3 style, and Williams and Anderson definitely fit. Anderson is a lot like Nick Roach in that he's consistent and reliable. Anderson probably possesses more athleticism than Roach, but I know he was somewhat of a liability in coverage at Carolina at the Sam spot. But you also have to consider he played in a division with some darn good tight ends.

Jim (Cicero)

I don't understand the one year contracts. They got both the linebackers for so cheap that it would only make sense that they sign them for two years. If they don't work out, why not just cut them? If they do pan out, they have them cheap for two years.

Michael
  (1:15 PM)

Well Jim, when you sign a guy to a two-year deal, it's not typically as cap friendly because you wind up having to guarantee some money. With the new CBA, this league has become a rent-a-player league. What's funny is that this is the agreement the players agreed to. It doesn't look so good now, does it?

Daniel (Mchenry)

Is there any truth in the rumors that Tebow can be joining the Bears?

Michael
  (1:17 PM)

Oh man, I hope not. You think there's a circus atmosphere now with the team. It would triple by adding Tebow into the mix. Tebow, in my opinion, isn't ready to be an NFL quarterback. In the past, I used to hate on him. But after meeting him a few times and speaking with him, he's the real deal, a guy you sort of root for. Marc Trestman's past with Tebow definitely adds a level of intrigue about the possibility of adding the quarterback. But as for the rumor, I'll believe it when I see it. I'm not sure the personnel side would be on board with acquiring Tebow.

Eli rodriguez (chicago)

Do you think Jay Cutler can reach the 30TD passes and under 14 interceptions mark in 2013?

Michael
  (1:20 PM)

You're asking my opinion, so I'm giving it to you. I'd have to say no regarding your question. Let me add that I've been wrong on several occasions about players, and I wouldn't feel bad if I'm wrong now. But I can only go by Cutler's past body of work, and that tells me that he's always going to be a guy that throws a ton of interceptions. That's his M.O. in my opinion, and with that you sort of have to just take the good with the bad. I know there have been a ton of passes given to Cutler for not having weapons, an offensive line, a good offensive coach, etc. But I think now it's put-up-or-shut-up time for Cutler. So for the Bears' sake, hopefully Cutler proves me wrong.

Cutty (Champaign)

Let's say Cutler has a bad year despite the upgrades in TE and OT. If you are Emery, do you resign Cutler? Do you draft a QB this year as insurance?

Michael
  (1:24 PM)

No to your first question. And for your second question I'm not sure. If there's a guy in the draft that Trestman thinks has a bright future and you can get him in the mid to late rounds, I definitely think they should take a flyer. But chances are, he one season on the bench wouldn't be sufficient time to develop him into a starting-caliber quarterback. If the Bears wind up not re-signing Cutler, I think their best bet is to try to land a veteran through a trade or free agency.

Brian (New York)

Hey Michael. The Jason Campbell signing last year seemed to be a flop, as he didn't have the time or arm strength to make any plays n the game and a half that he played. What is the bears plan for backing up Jay Cutler this season?

Michael
  (1:30 PM)

Brian, I'm not sure I agree that the signing was a flop. When Campbell had a chance to play, that chance happened to come against a buzzsaw in San Francisco. I honestly don't think Jay Cutler would have made a difference in that game. I know the Bears are interested in bringing back Campbell, but there are some other teams looking at him too. And all of those teams are looking to bring in Campbell as a guy that could compete for the starting job, which is what he ultimately wants: a chance to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. The interesting thing to me, though, is the fact that Cutler is about to be a free agent after 2013. Obviously, if the Bears decided to not re-sign Cutler, Campbell would immediately become the starter, provided the Bears could re-sign him this offseason. So I'm sure that scenario is also a part of Campbell's thinking as he starts to field inquiries from other teams. But right now, I believe the plan is to bring back Campbell. I had also heard rumblings about Matt Hasselbeck, but obviously he's no longer available.

Mr. Smith (Lakeview)

What can you tell me about these linebackers that might possible make me feel better? I hate to think anyone will be replacing Urlacher, but i understand we can't leave that spot open in memorium. Give me something!

Michael
  (1:33 PM)

Mr. Smith, as I've said before, you're talking about a couple of fairly young athletic linebackers in D.J. Williams and James Anderson. I thought Williams was one of the better linebackers in the NFL before all the suspension stuff happened to him. Williams has played all three spots in a 4-3 alignment, and has also played an inside linebacker spot in the 3-4. So obviously he's incredibly versatile. Anderson, meanwhile, has been a very consistent player in Carolina since becoming a starter. Off the top of my head, I know he had a game against the New York Giants a year or two ago in which he made something like 20 tackles. I'll definitely take that production on my defense.

Scott (Chicago)

Michael, Is Zibikowski an immediate upgrade over Major Wright and Steltz?

Michael
  (1:35 PM)

I'd say no. And the starters are Major Wright and Chris Conte.

thedchav (Moscow, Russia)

I had thoughts on this move before the Urlacher decision but what's going on with Ronaldo McClain? I hear he is going to be cut but can't understand why it hasn't been done already. Is there a trade and a restructuring that could make sense? What kind of numbers would we be talking about? Maybe Chicago's 2014 7th round pick and a 3 year 8 million dollar deal with 3 million guaranteed. Maybe send Devin Hester and our 4th round pick for McClain and Oakland's 3rd round pick? Your thoughts? Thanks!

Michael
  (1:36 PM)

Phil Emery can handle a few off-the-field incidents, as he understands the NFL is about production on the field more so than in society. But I have to think that some of the things McClain has been involved with would even make Emery cringe. I doubt there would be any interst on the Bears' part.

Anthony (Chicago)

Will the Bears let another LB wear the #54?

Michael
  (1:38 PM)

I don't think so. If they do, I promise I'd be writing a scathing column about the organization's disrespect for one of its finest. Man, I don't even want to think about such a scenario.

Roland (CPDB)

Any news on Brandon Hardin? Obviously the Bears thought he was good enough to draft and let him recover for a year. Will he compete for a starting job?

Michael
  (1:40 PM)

Roland, I don' think he'll seriously compete for a starting job because in my opinion, Major Wright and Chris Conte are firmly entrenched as the starters. Hardin was actually ready to return to the field by October or so last year, but the Bears designated him as an IR guy that wasn't eligible to return to the roster, which is why he didn't. I see Harding as more of a candidate for one of the top reserve spots who will also contribute a ton on special teams provided he makes the team.

TJ (Toronto, ON)

will idonije be back in your opinion? I really think he is a very versatile player that the Bears need.

Michael
  (1:43 PM)

T.J., I think Idonije is back only if he takes a paycut from the $2.5M he got last season. I'm sure the Bears consider Idonije a valuable player that can contribute in the rotation, but the salary cap situation won't allow them to bring him back at his 2012 salary. Also, it appears the time has come for Shea McClellin to replace Idonije in the starting lineup.

Chad (Ohio)

What is Urlacher's worth if not 2 Million? Was that a fair deal in your eyes? Do you think he would ever come back as one of the Bears coaches on defense?

Michael
  (1:46 PM)

As much as you hate to say it, I think that $2M was right about on the mark. It's starter's money (although low level), and I think it was fair because in this league, teams don't pay for what you did in the past. They pay for what you can do right now, and the upcoming season. I know the Bears haven't been in contact with Urlacher since making the decision to move forward. So I'm sure there are a lot of hurt feelings involved right now. But I'm also sure that Urlacher would probably be receptive to coming back to the organization in some fashion if he's not able to find employment as a player.

BIgHurt (NYC)

Provided he can actually play AT ALL, do you think Hardin could compete for the nickel job?

Michael
  (1:47 PM)

I don't based on what I've seen from Hardin on the field. He's an impressive specimen for sure, but I don't think he's up to par from a coverage standpoint to be a viable nickel.

Kary (Indiana)

Am I the only one not sad to see Urlacher go? After his rant about fans not being allowed to boo and he only cares about himself and not what the fans think, and also lovie having him run down field 15 yards every play! In my opinion it was time for him to go.

Michael
  (1:49 PM)

Kary, I'm sure a lot of fans agree with you. But don't knock him for those rants. Urlacher was a guy who spoke from the heart, and at the time he said those things, he was frustrated about what was going on. Was it the right thing to say? No. But that's something you and the fans should give him a pass for. I think he earned that in 13 years with the team.

Nader (Lombard)

How are the Bears going to deal with Evan Rodriguez's off the field issue? Trestman and Emery have talked him up in the off season as if they were planning on using him extensively as a #2 TE, so does this change their view on him? It seems like Emery doesn't really care about off the field issues as much as other GM's/teams (Brandon Marshall, DJ Williams).

Michael
  (1:51 PM)

Good question, Nader. I think he'll probably get another slap on the wrist, and be given a legitimate opportunity to earn a spot as the No.2 tight end. I agree with you about Emery. He doesn't put a ton of stock in off-the-field stuff. But I also think he evaluates it on a case-by-case basis, and isn't against giving guys second (and I guess sometimes third and fourth) chances.

Scott (Chicago)

Michael, With Bears having minimal salary cap room. Is going and getting a top flight FA WR even on the minds of Bears management, or will they most likely draft someone rounds 3+?

Michael
  (1:53 PM)

Scott, I say they'll turn to the draft.

Brian (Chicago)

If Urlacher can't find any other takers, is it a possibility that he comes back to the Bears and says he will take the $2M, or have they both decided to completely move on?

Michael
  (1:54 PM)

I'm guessing on the latter. As the money dries up in free agency, there's a better chance of that $2M offer going down as opposed to up.

GOOCH (Nacogdoches, TX)

I hate writing this -- I'm the biggest Urlacher fan in the world and I really wanted the Bears and Urlacher to work something out. But, from a team standpoint, Williams & Anderson vs. Urlacher at this point in his career...didn't Urlacher just do the Bears a big favor? We essentially got two linebackers for the price of one Urlacher, and both might outplay Urlacher in 2013, even assuming Brian finds a job (and I think there's a good chance no one is going to offer him the "respect" money he's looking for). Thoughts?

Michael
  (1:57 PM)

Gooch, I agree with you somewhat here. But I also think Urlacher has something left in the tank, and I just hope some team gives him an opportunity to prove that. But I also don't see Urlacher getting the money that he's looking for. Going into free agency, I spoke to some folks from the Bears and around the league, and they all expected the market to be flat. I didn't agree with them at the time. Now looking at it, the Bears' folks were correct. The deals guys are signing haven't been as lucrative as I expected. I've had a couple of agents tell me they think the team's colluded in making the market flat.

Mike (Phoenix)

Is Gabe Carmini just a draft bust or does he have real potential and is so what needs to happen to realize it and can Webb be an effective right tackle?

Michael
  (2:01 PM)

I'm not ready to place that label on Carimi just yet. I know Robert Gallery was a high pick back in the day as a tackle, and ended up having a pretty good career as a guard. At this point, I still think Carimi can develop into a pretty good player because he works his butt off at it. He's not just living off his stature as a first-round pick. Carimi is definitely under pressure to perform, and the fact he wasn't actually a Phil Emery pick should actually increase that pressure. Let's hold off on throwing a label on Carimi for right now. The book hasn't been written on him just yet.

Michael
  (2:01 PM)

I'm not ready to place that label on Carimi just yet. I know Robert Gallery was a high pick back in the day as a tackle, and ended up having a pretty good career as a guard. At this point, I still think Carimi can develop into a pretty good player because he works his butt off at it. He's not just living off his stature as a first-round pick. Carimi is definitely under pressure to perform, and the fact he wasn't actually a Phil Emery pick should actually increase that pressure. Let's hold off on throwing a label on Carimi for right now. The book hasn't been written on him just yet.

Adam (Chicago)

Michael, We have not heard much from Charles Woodson. I get he is old, and has been hurt the last few seasons. Any way possible the Bears take a 1 year chance on Woodson?

Michael
  (2:03 PM)

Adam, you know I've thought about that one, and put in some calls. And from speaking with people close to him, the money isn't a major consideration. He's set for life, and just wants to compete for the rings. I also know that he and his family really like the city of Chicago. I think he could come in and help as a nickel. But I also think there's still at least a little interest from the Bears in re-signing Kelvin Hayden to play that spot.

Michael
  (2:03 PM)

Guys that's my time. I appreciate you coming by to chat.