The Lovie Smith Bears haven’t always done well with high expectations. They have enjoyed some of their best seasons when they snuck up on people (2005, 2010.) That won’t be possible after an NFC Championship game appearance.
Here’s what we think the Bears need to do after the lockout.
1. Re-sign Olin Kreutz.
Kreutz’s better days may be behind him, but it’s hard to put a price on his leadership for an experienced offensive line. There just aren’t many centers out there. There are too many questions already on the line to add another.
2. Make sure J’Marcus Webb can play left tackle quickly.
The Bears are expected to move Webb to left tackle, while slotting in rookie first round pick Gabe Carimi (AKA the Bear Jew) on the right side. This experiment better work out or the Bears are in trouble. Perhaps they should pick up a fallback at tackle.
3. Add a linebacker or two.
Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher are good, but they aren’t good enough to be the only two linebackers on the roster. The Bears need guys for special teams and a starter for the strong side.
4. Sniff around for wide receiver value, including Steve Smith(s).
We know the Bears don’t see this as a huge need, but they don’t have great depth at wideout. They should bring back Rashied Davis for special teams help, but there is no depth after Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett, and Devin Hester.
They should see how much it would cost to get Steve Smith from Carolina (a third-round pick?) or Steve Smith of the Giants. Both could fit what Mike Martz does on offense. The younger Smith may not be healthy early in the year, but he’d be a long-term value play coming off an injury.
5. Re-sign Anthony Adams.
If Chicago picks up Cullen Jenkins from the Packers, you can throw this one out. But we’d be very surprised if the Bears out-bid the Redskins and others for Jenkins. We know they spent big on Julius Peppers . . . but that’s Julius Peppers.
6. Think about 2012 at cornerback.
It’s not exactly a deep position to begin with, and the Bears know Tim Jennings and Zackary Bowman are free agents after 2011. That’s why looking for a young free agent that fits Smith’s scheme makes sense this year. There should be some Cover Two values out there.
7. Sign Matt Forte to a long-term deal.
This isn’t an immediate concern, but Forte should be next up among Bears veterans for a contract extension. He fits what Martz does on offense beautifully.
8. Say you are better than the Packers again.