Nick Roach will hit the free agent market on Tuesday, and he is reportedly already drawing interest from a number of clubs for him to fill their inside LB vacancies. Roach has predominantly played OLB in the Bears’ 4-3 style, but in the absence of long-time middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, Roach stepped in and made an impression on the league.
Roach is an interesting case. He signed a 2-year deal and was thought of as more of a fringe player for Jerry Angelo. He has now developed into a versatile player, who at some points during the 2012 season was the best player of that LB core. Josh Wright, Roach's agent, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, has said that many teams are interested in talking to his client during the "legal tampering" period.
The names of the teams interested were not given, but many teams are looking to add more LB depth. The Bears are one of those teams looking to stay consistently effective with their current core. Emery and company have reportedly been talking to Urlacher over a potential extension. Roach would simply solidify that core in 2013, and if Urlacher happens to go down again, he would be a worthy replacement as MLB.
Drafting an ILB?
The question that arises is that if the Bears do sign Roach to another deal does it make him the direct replacement for Urlacher whenever he decides to retire? The Bears have a need at MLB, and Urlacher will always be a great help to that defensive unit, but he's lacking the physical skills to make plays. The Bears need to add depth at ILB.
Players like Alec Ogletree and Manti Te'o have been associated with the Bears and the 20th pick in the Draft. The Bears want a player groomed behind Urlacher, who can develop and potentially be the future MLB for the Bears. If Chicago signs Roach, the chances of them drafting a LB drop significantly. Roach has played in this system for good amount of time and has formed a connection with Urlacher and Briggs. He would be the logical choice to step in and replace Urlacher at MLB.