If Kyle Orton can't get a starting job in free agency, do you think the Bears would offer him about $4-5 million a year to be Jay' Cutler's backup? Would you do that even if it meant the Bears would not be able to re-sign a player like Tim Jennings or Israel Idonije? -- Carl Masterson, Oak Park
I'd be surprised if the Bears offered that much money to a backup quarterback, given how much they are paying Cutler. They would have an inordinate amount of cash and cap space in the quarterback position. Usually when a team has a highly paid starter, they don't have a highly paid backup. As important as the backup quarterback position is, you still need quality starters at other positions. If the Bears let Jennings or Idonije go, they will need to replace them with other veterans who are capable of starting, so it's not like they can just not pay those guys and realize a big budget surplus. I also would be surprised if Orton wanted to come to Chicago. Even if he can't get a starting job elsewhere, he still probably can go to a team that has a starter who is on shaky ground, or a quarterback who has a history of injuries. Orton's chances of ever seeing the field in Chicago would not be good, given Cutler's durability over his career.
With all the talk about defensive ends and wide receivers, I have not heard any talk about an important position which the backup QB spot. Who do you think would be a good fit? I know all Bears fans don't want to go through what happened last year with the backup QB spot. -- Vince Dance; Gary, Ind.
The Bears need two backups, a veteran and a developmental player. The veteran could be Josh McCown, though it appears the Bears want to see what is on the market before committing to McCown. If they could land someone like Shaun Hill, Byron Leftwich, David Carr or Charlie Whitehurst, that may be the way to go. Maybe they try to sign a veteran and bring back McCown and let them compete for the No. 2 job. For the No. 3 spot, the Bears could stick with Nathan Enderle, whom they showed zero confidence in last year, or they could use a later round draft pick on another quarterback.
As the Bears need a backup QB, would you trade for the Browns' Colt McCoy for a third round pick? The Browns could then trade their two first rounders and the for round for the Rams' first and get Robert Griffin III. -- Carl C. Federl, Willowbrook
I would consider trading a third for McCoy. I'd prefer to get a starter at some position with that third round pick, but given the importance of the quarterback position, it would be worth looking into, especially if the board isn't very enticing when the Bears' turn comes up. The Bears would have to investigate if McCoy would be on board with being Cutler's backup, but he's a talented player with potential. The jury is out on whether or not McCoy can be a solid starter, but he has shown enough to make me believe he would be a very good backup.
Which of the free agent wideouts do you think most interests the Bears and why? I'm hoping that its Marques Colston. -- Jim, Arlington Heights
The tea leaves say Vincent Jackson is the Bears' man. But Vincent Jackson also may be the man for about a half dozen other teams. The Chargers have not ruled out re-signing him, either. The Bears have to have a Plan B in the event they can't land him though. Marques Colston may be that player. I like Colston a lot. Colston will be cheaper to sign than Jackson, and in some ways he is more attractive. Colston has outstanding hands. He is a clutch player who makes big catches when the Saints need them most, like on third downs and in the red zone. Colston is tough and physical and enhances his team's character. He is a great locker room guy, not a diva. Drew Brees loves him. Some teams will be cautious about Colston because he will be 29-years old soon and he has some wear and tear on his body. Younger always is better in the NFL. Some personnel men wonder if Colston would be as productive in another environment, however. He undoubtedly has benefited from playing in a domed stadium, in a spectacular offensive system, and with Brees. What's more, Colston has been in the same system his whole career. It is not unreasonable to suspect he would not be as productive in, say Chicago, as he was in New Orleans. But it would be unreasonable to suggest he could not improve the Bears offense significantly.
What do you think about Mike Wallace? The price tag for Wallace would be high ($12 million and the first round pick), but of the receivers available, he seems like the one with the most upside to stick and be solid for years to come. What if we gave up that first pick, got Wallace and went D the rest of the way? -- Billy Menz, Minneapolis
The Bears are not in a position to give up a first round draft pick. They have an aging roster. In the last three years the Bears have added one first round pick (Gabe Carimi) and one second round pick (Stephen Paea). If anything, they need to find a way to get more high picks, not fewer. I like Wallace a lot, but I would rather have two good young players than one.
How do you think Marshawn Lynch's new contract is going to affect Matt Forte's new contract? -- Robert; Corona, Calif.
I don't think it will have much of an effect as a result of the availability of the franchise tag. The Bears' ability to hit Forte with a tag for $7.7 million is a game changer in negotiations. Lynch's deal averages a little more than $7.7 a year. It's possible the Bears would go for a similar deal, but I'm not so sure that would satisfy Forte.
Assuming the Bears don't address the need for a pass rusher or for a wideout in free agency and assuming that Melvin Ingram and Michael Floyd are both available, who do you think the Bears would draft? -- Sam Rudman, New England.
If my only choices are Ingram or Floyd, I'd go Floyd. Ingram is a natural pass rusher, but has not always been productive. The Bears look for two things in defensive ends: speed and motor. Neither are among Ingram's best traits. There are pass rushers I like more than Ingram who could be available when the Bears pick, but from the available receivers Floyd would be a solid pick. As long as he has learned from his mistakes I think he should be a very good NFL wide receiver.
What are the chances of the Bears signing a left tackle and a wide receiver in free agency and going heavy on defense in the draft to add some much needed youth on that side of the ball? -- Steve Larsen; Sebring, Fla.
I like the way you are thinking Steve. I wouldn't get too excited about landing a left tackle in free agency though. The left tackle free agent class will be very, very thin -- possibly non-existent. And the last we heard, the Bears are confident that J'Marcus Webb can improve enough to handle the position. But the idea of going with defense in the draft is a good one. The Bears defense doesn't just need to add good players, it needs to add good, young players.
Given how hard it is to get good, starting offensive tackles in free agency, should the Bears draft an OLT in the first round and use free agency to upgrade at WR and DE? If not, who will be the Bears swing tackle in 2012? -- Paul Taylor; Chandler, Ariz.
If a left tackle who is an excellent value is available at 19, I'd have no problem if the Bears selected him. I don't suspect that will be the case, however. There probably are three offensive tackles worth taking that high -- Matt Kalil of Southern Cal, Riley Reiff of Iowa and Jonathan Martin of Stanford. My hunch is all three will be off the board by the time the Bears pick, and better values will be available at other positions. The Bears' swing tackle in 2012 very well could be Chris Williams, or, if Williams wins a starting offensive tackle job, the swing tackle could be Webb. Either way, at this point it looks like Williams is moving back to tackle.
Will the Bears draft an outside linebacker and start him or sign a free agent? Nick Roach is an average linebacker at best. -- Tawone Miller, Chicago
I think there is a good chance the starting linebackers in 2012 will be Roach, Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. I don't believe the Bears will actively try to replace Roach, though there is a chance they could draft a linebacker in the high rounds with the thought that he will be an eventual replacement for Urlacher or Briggs. If that player can be an immediate upgrade from Roach, he could start out as the strong side linebacker this year. The only other complicating factor in the linebacker scenario is Briggs' unhappiness with his contract. There remains a chance Briggs could play elsewhere this season, but I think it's a slim chance.
You mentioned the type of GM Phil Emery is going to be, by leaving town and scouting the college scene. Was Jerry Angelo the same way? Or did he just stay at home and let his scouts do the grunt work? -- Tommy Vargas; Diamond, Ill.
Angelo did not get out to colleges as much as Emery plans to, but he did not abandon his scouting roots. He typically saw one college game a week, and was would still make visits to colleges during the week, especially colleges where he had longstanding relationships. Angelo also probably watched as much college tape as any general manager.
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