Late word tonight is that defensive end Jeremy Mincey is staying in Jacksonville with the Jaguars. The Bears made a strong effort to sign one of the most underrated DEs in the free agent market, but the Jags just couldn’t let him get away. Mincey tweeted this just minutes ago:
Chicago!!! what a great organization. But, Gene Smith fought for me in a Very Tough fight…. PROUD TO BE A JAG!! DUUUUUVALLLLL!!!
Mincey staying in Jacksonville means the Bears may look at crusty old veteran John Abraham or Whitney Mercilus or Courtney Upshaw in the upcoming NFL draft. Mercilus is the best pass rusher available in this draft and is an extremely athletic 4-3 DE. Mercilus shows natural bend and burst off the edge and tested extremely well in all of the events at the combine. If he’s there at 19 the Bears may be smart in pulling the trigger.
Bears are also linked to safety LaRon Landry of the Redskins. The in the box safety would very well into the Bears’ defense which puts such a strong emphasis on stopping the run. Landry would be an instant upgrade over Brandon Meriweather whom the Bears will likely let depart. Landry is easily the best safety available on the market and would be a tremendous upgrade to the young safety rotation
Chicago is also said to have interest in TE John Carlson formerly of Notre Dame. The TE has failed to live up to expectations in Seattle. Carlson had to Greg Olsen like years in 2008 and 2009 before his production dropped off in 2010 and he missed all of 2011.
In other Bears free agency news the Bears agreed to terms with CB Tim Jennings on a two year deal keeping him a Bear. Jennings according to ProFootballFocus did not allow a TD last year one of only two CBs in the league to accomplish this feat.
The Bears also signed former starter Jason Campbell to a one year $3.5 million deal to be the backup to Jay Cutler. Campbell has started 70 of 71 contests played in six seasons with the Washington Redskins (2006-09) and Oakland Raiders (2010-11) completing 1,296 of 2,131 passing attempts (60.8 percent) for 14,417 yards, 74 touchdowns and 50 interceptions for a 82.8 passer rating.
The Campbell signing was a quiet little coup as he’s easily the best backup on the market.
The Bear also added some special teams depth by signing linebacker Blake Costanzo. Costanzo has appeared in 61 games in five NFL seasons with the Buffalo Bills (2007-08), Cleveland Browns (2009-10) and San Francisco 49ers (2011) registering 71 special teams stops with four forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. In 2009, he was selected to SI.com’s All-Pro team as a special teamer after recording 14 tackles, 3 fumble recoveries and a forced fumble for the Browns.
Costanzo is a nice special teams addition which likely ends Corey Graham’s tenure here in Chicago.
Even with Costanzo’s arrival the Bears need to make legitimate depth behind Urlacher and Briggs a priority. Special teams is great and has been for years, but the Bears don’t need to continue to sacrifice depth at linebacker in favor of special teams guys who can’t play linebacker. Urlacher and Briggs played far too much so the Bears need to be very active in the draft at the linebacker position.