Super Bowl expectations are high for the Chicago Bears, but that doesn't mean their roster is flawless. With holes in some key areas either present or coming, could they have shots at pending free agents like James Laurinaitis or Ryan Clady?
Left tackle battle could get solved if Clady leaves Denver Broncos
Every expert with an ounce of credibility knows the glaring weakness for Chicago heading into the 2012 season. It was wide receiver in seasons past, but that problem got solved the second Phil Emery traded for Brandon Marshall and drafted Alshon Jeffery. Now all eyes are on the very important battle between J'Marcus Webb and Chris Williams for the right to start at left tackle. Neither player has confidence of the coaches or quarterback Jay Cutler, which means they must prove they deserve the nod. What's worse is it could turn out bad either way. This means the Bears might have to hunt for someone else. One player fans and even Cutler himself have eyed is two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Ryan Clady. As teammates with the Denver Broncos they were a force teams didn't like facing. Cutler said earlier in the offseason he would love to see himself and Marshall in Bears uniforms. Most got blindsided when half that dream came true in the Dolphins trade. Now lights are peaking through on the Clady idea too. After months of ongoing talks the left tackle and Denver broke off their push for a new contract. Clady is a free agent in 2013 unless something changes. That's not good news for a Broncos team who just signed Peyton Manning to win them a championship.
St. Louis Rams focus on Chris Long opens Laurinaitis door
Another issue facing Chicago is long-time defensive captain Brian Urlacher. After twelve years and eight Pro Bowls, the middle linebacker is on course to become a free agent for the first time. Both he and the Bears have said they want to work out a new deal, but with training camp opening and the season so close it happened that the best course was to wait until the offseason next year. No one wants to think about what the defense would look like without him, but there are ways to soften the blow if he left. The St. Louis Rams are in a similar pickle with their young linebacker James Laurinaitis. His contract is up in 2013, but the Rams chose to focus on extending his teammate, defensive end Chris Long. Laurinaitis isn't worried about a deal happening. His focus is on playing hard and letting his pay raise come from that. Many think the Ohio State product is ready for a Pro Bowl run under new coach Jeff Fisher. On the other hand, if he reaches free agency, a team like Chicago would become a perfect fit, especially if they lost Urlacher.
Ryan Clady and James Laurinaitis are two prizes the Chicago Bears can dream about, but shouldn't lose sleep over if the Denver Broncos and St. Louis Rams have any brains. Then again, crazy things happen every year heading into free agency.