The Chicago Bears have underwent a significant facelift this offseason, starting with the ousting of long-time head coach Lovie Smith and the hiring of his replacement, Marc Trestman.
Now with free agency only two weeks away, Chicago general manager Phil Emery has some tough decisions to make. One of those conundrums is linebacker Nick Roach, who is ready to hit the open market and is certainly going to command a solid amount of money. According to ESPN.com, Emery would like to keep his 27-year-old playmaker.
Roach was an integral part of the Bears defense last season, making 84 tackles and filling in for Brian Urlacher at the inside linebacker position when he was injured.
Should Chicago lose Roach, it would be a tough pill to swallow. Without Roach, the Bears will be left with a very old linebacking core that doesn't have a whole lot left in Urlacher and Lance Briggs. Both have been excellent players for long periods of time, but their best years are behind them.
Urlacher has seen his tackles total decrease each of the past three years (125, 102, 68). As a middle linebacker in the 4-3 defense, 100 tackles should be a given but at 35 years old when the next season begins, nothing can be taken for granted.
Briggs, 32, has a little more gas in the tank. The outside 'backer has been a model of consistency, making 100+ tackles in eight of the last nine seasons. However, it's hard to expect Briggs to continue churning out pro bowl-type seasons.
If Roach is lost, Chicago will likely go out and sign a free agent at a cheaper rate to replace him or spend a high draft pick on an outside linebacker. Though it is not as if Chicago doesn't have other spots on which it could be using high picks, including receiver, offensive lineman, safety and inside linebacker.
Behind Roach, Urlacher and Briggs, the next-most productive linebacker is Geno Hayes, who made just 16 tackles.
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