Keeping the veteran core intact for 2013 made sense for the Chicago Bears. However, after another near-miss with the playoffs, signs are creeping up that a massive shift to a younger roster is on the way.
Julius Peppers and Devin Hester rumors add credit to youth movement
Fans already know the situation regarding the team at present. They have more free agents than any current team to deal with an limited cap space. Charles Tillman and Henry Melton are among the names that could be on the way out, holdovers from the Lovie Smith era. However, it doesn't seem like the team will stop there. Devin Hester, their iconic return man is also a free agent and not expected to get re-signed. To top it off, word continues to pipe up that there is a real chance the front office might decide to cut defensive end Julius Peppers due to his engorged $18 million cap number. The fact he's turning 34 and coming off is worst season as a Bear are also key reasons. Replacing them is not going to be an easy job for the franchise, but they know if they wish to end the mediocrity that has bedeviled the franchise for years then something has to change. Going young may be the best course open to them.
Phil Emery will use NFL draft and free agency to complete transition
In order to accomplish that task, GM Phil Emery will have to do some of the best scouting of his tenure. It is going to take a collective series of successful acquistions in free agency, the NFL draft and even undrafted free agency if the Bears truly wish to fill out the roster enough, particularly on defense to compete in 2014? To do so will require careful planning. The thing to remember about the free agency periods is that they are not about finding superstars. Signing players is about depth, getting talent to fill roster spots at a reasonable price. It will be the draft where Emery makes his money finding the stars. Will it be Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan with the 14th pick? Or maybe Michigan State corner Darqueze Dennard? Perhaps Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy or Alabama safety Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix could be the pick as well. The point is the decisions won't be easy and each player will look like a "good" pick. For Emery though it will be about sifting through the "good" to find a "great" one. That is how champions are built.
The Chicago Bears better hope their youth movement encapsulates that detail.
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