Coach Lovie Smith said Monday there’s “no reason” to start breaking up the Bears.
It will be easier for Smith to to keep his team together this offseason than most. Chicago has 16 players likely headed for unrestricted free agency, which is a low number in this unusual offseason. Few are key players.
If anything, the Bears just need to have a good draft because this roster is still lacking quality young players, especially on defense. With a lot of help from Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com, here’s a look at some offseason priorities for Chicago.
1. Tommie Harris and Olin Kreutz
Two veterans not coming off their best seasons. The Bears have no logical replacement for Kreutz and figure to bring him back — he’s a free agent.
Smith said on Monday he expects Harris to return, but it’s believed the team owes him a $2.5 million roster bonus in June. That’s a lot to pay for a guy with virtually no production and a varying role in 2010.
2. Defensive free agents: Defensive tackle Anthony Adams, safeties Danieal Manning and Chris Harris.
Compared to most teams, the Bears have a small list of key guys to re-sign. Adams had a strong year in 2010 and Manning was approached about an extension during the season. If Harris goes, 2010 third-round pick Major Wright will have to step in.
3. Linebacker and offensive line depth
Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher are the only guys under contract next year at linebacker. Like so much of the roster, the Bears have struggled to add quality young talent at this position for a while.
The team’s offensive line improved during the season, but they can’t be satisfied with their talent level overall.
4. Backup quarterback
Caleb Hanie is a free agent, and may have made himself some money against the Packers. Mike Martz never seemed to embrace the guy, so he could be gone.