Reports today from Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun Times had the Bears connnected to free agent left tackle Jake Long, while Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reported the Bears have real interest in right tackle Phil Loadholdt.
As of 10:30 this morning the Bears had not cleared any addidtionaly room below the salary cap. Kellen Davis is still on the roster eating up $2.5-million in cap space. What the Bears plan to do to get further below the cap to potentially make a run at a big free agent remains to be seen.
The reports from different sources say the Bears sit at $7.1-million under the cap which would seem to be enough to make one big signing while having to adjust to bring their own players.
Varying reports with around four and a half hours to go before the start of free agency may be a sign of legitimate interest or it might be a smoke screen by agents to drive up the price. The idea that an agent would use a team within the Vikings own division to drive up the price for Loadholdt seems more logical than the Bears being able to afford upwards of $8 to 10-million it might take to win this battle.
Loadholdt is one of the top young right tackles in the NFL, he's a tremendous run blocker, and a decent pass protector. He is a RT only so there isn't a scenario in which he slides over to LT and the Bears move Webb back to RT.
Long was at one time an elite offensive tackle and the Miami Dolphins know better than anyone what concerns surround Long's injury history. The fact that the Dolphins let a franchise LT hit the open market and aren't willing to pay big money for a player who was one of the best within the last couple of years raises red flags.
Both moves on paper, would seem to be solid upgrades at the position than what the Bears already have on the roster. The question that no one seems to ask or answer is how can the Bears justify adding a signinificant monetary contract to an alrleady strained payroll.
The level of financial commitment to six players eats up nearly 60-percent of the current salary cap. Adding more money to increase that figure while ignoring a number of their own free agents still doesn't make good football sense.