I'm not getting greedy, believe me. I'm still basking in the glow of the greatest day in the history of Chicago Bears free agency. But the club still has two distinct needs that must be addressed by the start of the 2010 season: interior offensive line and safety. Guards can be found in the later rounds of the draft. Impact safeties cannot.
O.J. Atogwe, currently under contract with the Rams, is a restricted free agent and the best option available. Dan Pompei breaks down effectively what the Bears would need to do to acquire him:
...if another team signs him, the Rams would not be due compensation
because of the low tender they used. But the Rams can match any offer
to Atogwe until June 1. After that they have to pay him approximately
$7 million for one season or lose their right to match.
The Bears probably need to offer a creative deal with a poison pill and a big paycheck.
The Bears might not have a paycheck big enough to give after Friday. But he could be the player who makes the difference.
The Bears don't need to stack the back line. They can make due with a combination of Al Afalava, Craig Steltz and Kevin Payne at one of the safety spots. They need a center fielder. Someone to stop the ten yard gain from going the distance. Atogwe would be ideal.
Darren Sharper also makes a ton of sense for an organization operating with a "Win Now" attitude. Sharper's contract talks have been slow-developing with the Saints and with the Giants now out of the race, the price tag may be dropping significantly.
Then there's my wildcard: Donte Whitner. I had planned to write a full column dedicated to both Whitner and ex-Jet Kerry Rhodes - two players with maximum potential and inconsistent performance. My Bills fan friends (and I have a few) claim Whitner's benching was more the product of an absent-minded Dick Jauron than poor safety play. Now Whitner's future in Buffalo seems bleak and his acquisition may only cost the Bears a late-round draft pick. The Bears have spent their money on sure-things. This might be the time to take a shot.