The fear in Bears free agency

Michael Bennett staying in Seattle

Seahawks defensive linemen Michael Bennett (72) and Clinton McDonald wraps up Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew. (Tony Overman / MCT / September 22, 2013)

The first question is whether the Bears can address any of their many defensive problems as the free-agency signing period opens Tuesday.

The second question is whether Phil Emery can say no.

Both questions involved Michael Bennett.

The brother of Bears tight end Martellus Bennett, he’s a pass-rushing defensive end who helped the Seahawks win the Super Bowl. The Bears need a pass-rushing defensive end. They also need a Super Bowl win.

Bennett had more sacks than any Bears player last season, but that’s not saying much, is it, Julius Peppers?

But here’s the thing: Bennett is not Lawrence Taylor. He’s not Michael Strahan. He’s not Peppers when Peppers was worth the money instead of stealing it like last season.

Bennett is good, he can get to the passer and he can hold the point against the run. He’s better than anybody the Bears have, but this is not an All-Pro coming loose that you have to sign at any price.

And speaking of price, Bennett is coming off a contract-drive season. Some players in that situation can kill you because they don’t have the same drive after getting the money.

But that’s the Seahawks’ worry now that he has re-signed. The Bears’ problem is that even if they had signed him, their defense still would be a mess.

There isn’t a restaurant-quality defensive end on the other side. There isn’t faith in the middle at defensive tackle. They also need at least one linebacker, a cornerback and two safeties.

We all want it fixed now. I get that. When you’re the worst rushing defense and tied for the fewest sacks, you want mommy to make it all better.

But it won’t happen quickly, if it happens at all this season. A lot of the smart money stocks rosters with bargains after splash teams have overpaid.

Those teams often have leverage. The Bears don’t. Everybody knows their fixes have to start up front. Free-agent signings haven't officially started, and the Bears already are behind.

So, now that the Seahawks have re-signed Bennett, the fear is that Emery will become desperate and overpay for one player, leaving him to panhandle to fill everything else that stunk last season.

CHICAGO

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