According to CSN Chicago, re-signing DT Henry Melton is most likely the Bears top priority as they head into the offseason.
Melton, 26 has put together back-to-back solid seasons for the Bears and represents the best available interior pass-rusher in this year’s market.
The article adds that Melton’s stock has gone “through the roof” this year, so it’s not going to be easy for the Bears to get a long-term deal in place.
Applying their franchise tag to Melton seems like a smart move given that there’s a good chance a number of NFL team’s will have interest in signing him, should he end up being available on the open market. One team to watch would be the Dallas Cowboys, now that they’re installing a 4-3 defense and have added former Bears’ defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli as defensive line coach.
CSN Chicago writes that Brian Urlacher remains the “biggest question mark” for the Bears this offseason.
According to the article, Chicago wants to get younger and would want Urlacher to accept a reduced salary if he were to return.
Urlacher, 34, has said he would like to finish out his career with the Bears, but GM Phil Emery appears to be focused on getting younger across the board, so it will be interesting to see if they’re willing to come close to a market value deal.
The article also mentions that Chicago will “work hard” to re-sign G Lance Louis this offseason.
Louis, 27, tore his ACL back in November and there’s some question as to whether or not he’ll be available for the start of the season. The Bears need to find solutions for their offensive line, but Pro Football Focus has Louis rated as an average guard, so you have to wonder whether or not it’s wise to commit to re-signing him when he’s coming off of a serious knee injury and plays on the interior offensive line.
CSN Chicago also mentions that the Bears may want to get younger on their defensive line, which could mean allowing DE Israel Idonije to leave during free agency.
Corey Wooton wound up taking some snaps from him this season and the fact that Idonije is 32 years old makes it hard to commit a multi-year contract to him.
He tallied 7 sacks this season, but there are some questions as to whether or not his production comes from playing on the same defensive line as Julius Peppers and Henry Melton.