With each passing day it seems as though another veteran, sometimes a former Pro Bowler, hits the open market after becoming a victim of his team’s salary cap situation and youth movement.
Marvin Harrison, Terrell Owens, Roy Williams, and Jason Taylor are just a few.
And seemingly every time a new player becomes available, a contingent of Bears fans ask, why don’t the Bears pursue him? The Bears then deny interest in that player, leaving their fans frustrated and bitter when another team picks him up.
Add offensive tackle Orlando Pace to that list of casualties. The St. Louis Rams released the 7-time Pro Bowler whom they selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 draft.
Conventional wisdom says he’d be a good addition to the Bears considering his ties with Lovie Smith when Smith was a defensive coordinator with the Rams. Plus, the Bears are in desperate need of additional help at the tackle position, even after signing Frank Omiyale earlier in free agency.
According to Chicago Tribune’s football blog, the Bears will not likely show interest in Pace because of his age — he’s 33 — his injury history, and his likely costly price tag.
I’ve preached re-signing John St. Clair this off-season and he’s 32, so Pace’s age doesn’t bother me. Offensive tackle is one of the most important positions on the field and when a good one becomes available, you investigate that option.
However, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Bears left Pace alone because they didn’t want to shell out big bucks to a player his age. By now, Bears fans should realize, and not get so frustrated by the fact that the Bears organization has deep pockets but short arms. It’s a common fact and one that needs to be accepted in order to stave off eternal frustration.
The Bears will not change their approach to free agency and spending habits unless the team were sold to an owner who had other means of income. That will not happen, so we can expect to see this and future versions of the team try to develop through the draft.
One thing that we as Bears fans do not have to accept is inactivity. It’s okay if they don’t splurge on the big free agents. The NFL’s parity allows even above average teams to make a run at the Super Bowl as long as they’re playing their best football of the season at the right time.
I’m willing to give Angelo more time because it’s still early in the free agency process. Angelo is like a kid partaking in a blinking contest. He’s sitting around a table with the other GMs in the league with the collective free agents still available sitting in the middle of the table. He’s waiting while the other GMs drop out of the contest and the price tags on the available free agents continue to drop.
To give you another metaphor, why buy the newly-released DVD when you can get it off the $5 or less bargain bin a little bit later?
At least, that’s what I think Angelo is doing. But if he thinks that the Bears will improve as a team not by the addition of veteran players this off-season but by the development of its youth and by better coaching from a new defensive staff, he’s not going to have many excuses to give next off-season why the Bears failed to make the playoffs.