1. A Long line dance
After receiver Alshon Jeffery, Kyle Long is the next in-house candidate in line for a big payday. He’s a core player and a Pro Bowl talent.
But how much Long gets from the Bears will be determined by what position he’s playing. And that’s still up for debate.
Right now, Long is the starting right tackle. But moves in free agency and the draft may mean a move back to right guard.
Long left last season with tackle in mind, but general manager Ryan Pace opened the door for a possible switch when speaking at the combine.
“The thing about Kyle that we all love is his position flexibility,” Pace said. “With our offensive line, when I look at that, we’ve got some flexibility with some guys there. Our goal is to improve that position, but to just acquire the best players and let it all sort out and start the best five.”
2. Being guarded
With Long making progress at tackle, why wouldn’t the Bears just pay up for a guard? There are good, young ones on the market: Kelechi Osemele (Ravens); Alex Boone (49ers); Brandon Brooks (Texans); and J.R. Sweezy (Seahawks).
On Twitter, Long responded to a question from a fan, saying he’d like to play with Boone.
But landing one of the aforementioned guards may cost more money than the Bears are willing to fork over. Pace doesn’t want to get into bidding wars.
Update: Osemele has a deal in place with the Raiders. According to the NFL Network, it’s worth more than $11 million per year.
“We stack our free-agent board, we identify the players we’d like to target, and then we identify salary parameters where we feel they fit in,” Pace said at the combine.
3. A feel for Forte
The Bears’ decision to not re-sign veteran running back Matt Forte wasn’t surprising. But it will be interesting to see where he lands in free agency.
Forte wants to sign with a contender, and he was immediately linked to the rival Packers. Forte would give quarterback Aaron Rodgers a versatile option that Rodgers has never really had.
Former Bears defensive end Julius Peppers has reportedly been recruiting Forte to join Green Bay.
As for replacing Forte, the Bears will lean on 2015 draft pick Jeremy Langford and 2014 pick Ka’Deem Carey.
But there are free agents to look at to get the wave of backs that coach John Fox wants and often talks about. Broncos back Ronnie Hillman is one to watch because he played for Fox.
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