Pass-rushing defensive end: Free agent Israel Idonije was re-signed, and he is a solid run defender, but he had just five sacks playing across from right end Julius Peppers. The defense is based on getting pass-rush pressure from the linemen, but they did not get that consistently last season from anyone other than Peppers. An undersized, situational rusher would make sense, since the Bears like Idonije - at least on the first two downs.
Offensive line: Every position on the line could be upgraded with the exception of right tackle, which should be in good hands, as long as last year's No. 1 pick Gabe Carimi is fully recovered from a dislocated kneecap that sidelined him after two games. Improvement is especially needed at left tackle, given the lack of pass protection provided by J'Marcus Webb last season. Guard is better with the addition of Chilo Rachal, but the 2008 second-round draft choice was relegated to a backup last season with the 49ers.
Wide receiver: With the addition of Brandon Marshall, the Bears have their long-awaited No. 1 receiver. But, the most productive member of last year's group, Johnny Knox, is slowly rehabbing from a devastating hit late last season that necessitated back surgery. There is no timetable for his return, and he could miss at least part of the season. Bounce-back seasons from Earl Bennett and Devin Hester are certainly possible but should not be assumed.
RB Matt Forte (tendered at $7.742 million).
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--LS Chris Massey filled in reliably last season, and Patrick Mannelly, the Bears' long-snapper for the past 14 years, is still rehabbing from the torn ACL that ended his 2011 season in November. Mannelly might not be 100 percent for some time.
--WR Roy Williams, at 6-3 and 215 pounds, is easily the biggest of an undersized group of wide receivers. But, despite high hopes last season, Williams' production was pedestrian: 37 catches, 507 yards, two touchdowns.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
--TE Kellen Davis: UFA; $6M/2 yrs, $2.7M SB.
--DE Israel Idonije: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--CB Tim Jennings: Potential UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--QB Josh McCown: UFA; $850,000/1 yr, $25,000 SB.
--S Craig Steltz: UFA; $1.64M/2 yrs.
--RB Michael Bush: UFA Raiders; $14M/4 yrs, $7M guaranteed.
--QB Jason Campbell: UFA Raiders; $3.5M/1 yr, $2M SB.
--LB Blake Costanzo: UFA 49ers; $2M/2 yrs, $400,000 SB.
--CB Kelvin Hayden: UFA Falcons; $825,000/1 yr.
--LB Geno Hayes: UFA Buccaneers; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--WR Brandon Marshall (trade Dolphins).
--OG Chilo Rachal: UFA 49ers; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--WR Devin Thomas: UFA Giants; $700,000/1 yr.
--WR Eric Weems: UFA Falcons; $4.2M/3 yrs, $1,5M guaranteed.
--CB Jonathan Wilhite: UFA Broncos; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--NT Anthony Adams (released).
--RB Marion Barber (retired).
--CB Zack Bowman: UFA Vikings; $615,000/1 yr.
--CB Corey Graham: UFA Ravens; $3/7M/2 yrs, $1.2M SB.
--QB Caleb Hanie: UFA Broncos; $1.25M/1 yr.
--S Brandon Meriweather: UFA Redskins; $6M/2 yrs.
--DT Amobi Okoye: UFA Buccaneers; $2M/1 yr.
--T/G Frank Omiyale (released).
Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.