As has previously been reported the Chicago Bears' salary cap situation is precarious and the Bears don't have a lot of room left to sign most of their own free agents. The Bears front office is now focusing its efforts on finding veteran minimum level players who are attempting to reclaim their careers in the NFL. The Bears have signed defensive end Turk McBride, tight end Steve Maneri linebacker DJ Williams and safety Tom Zbikowski to veteran minimum contracts. None of those players have been even remotely competent as players over the last two seasons and are the types of player the Bears will focus on moving forward.
Essentially the salary cap situation is relegating the Bears to filling roles within their teams with players that exist at the bottom of the barrel. Key role players like DJ Moore, Israel Idonije, Nick Roach, Geno Hayes, and Kelvin Hayden are being allowed to test the market and if they're getting anything other than the veteran minimum offer from other teams, they're gone.
The likelihood that the Bears are going to be able to keep a key contributor like Israel Idonije remains slim to none. Idonije's versatility is prized and he comes at a relatively cheap price for most teams in the NFL. The Bears however can't afford even a player that is as bargain rated as Idonije.
With Idonije likely not returning the onus will be on second-year defensive end Shea McClellin to step up and fill the void he struggled to fill in 2012, the third DE role. McClellin now has to become a legitimate third defensive end for the Bears during the 2013 season otherwise the Bears risk falling back into the problem they faced in 2011 when Julius Peppers was forced to play 87.9-percent of the defensive snaps. Also that year Idonije took over 80-percent of the snaps and as a result between Idonije and Peppers they combined for a meager 3.5 sacks over the final seven games of the 2011 season. This much is certain, the Bears will know immediately if Shea McClellin is a first round bust or not during the 2013 season.
This type of strategy is going to severely test the Bears depth over the 2013 season. While the Bears may seem to be taking a win it all approach from a public standpoint, the roster they're putting together behind closed doors hammers home that this team will be a rebuilding project sooner rather than later.
Phil Emery's draft strategy is even more apparent as the Bears will likely be desperate to trade down in the NFL draft to accumulate more than the five picks they have in the NFL draft. Emery is going to be hard pressed to pick up a third round draft choice to make up the pick that he traded away for Brandon Marshall.
With the draft a mere 33 days away we can now begin to narrow down the list of players the Bears are likely to target in rounds one and two. The focus seems to be focusing on offensive guards, and linebackers which remain the two biggest needs on the 2013 roster. The Bears are also likely to look hard at adding CB depth and wide receiver depth with Marc Trestman insisting that Devin Hester will solely focus on his return duties.