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Bears Hunting for Free Agents

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Mar 5, 2010 3:40PM

The NFL's free agency period began on Thursday, and the Bears are stalking a number of top defensive players available. Will the historically stingy McCaskey clan open the purse strings and let GM Jerry Angelo sign the players needed to help his club? Perhaps they will, as Coach Lovie Smith headed to Charlotte Thursday night to chaperon Julius Peppers back to Chicago on Friday. The most coveted free agent this off-season, defensive end Peppers has recorded 81 sacks during his first eight seasons, all with the Carolina Panthers. He's previously expressed interest in joining the likes of Urlacher, Briggs and Harris on the Bears defense, and while a number of teams are expected to pursue him, the Bears were the first to get him on a plane. When he departs town, will it be with a new contract in hand? Some, including the NFL Network's Mike Lombardi, think so.

While Peppers may be their top target, he wasn't the only defensive player in the Bears' sights. They've also supposedly extended an offer to safety Antrel Rolle, who was waived by the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday for salary cap reasons. But with the Peppers signing becoming more and more likely, it's being reported the Bears have dropped out of the race to sign Rolle.

But the Bears also need help on offense. That's why another face expected to make an appearance at Halas Hall on Friday is Chester Taylor, the Vikings running back who's been backing up Adrian Peterson for the past couple seasons. Payback for the Vikes' signing Bernard Berrian two years ago? Could be... but some insurance in case Matt Forte doesn't bounce back to rookie form would be nice, too.

However, the Bears' first apparent free agent signing is TE Brandon Manumaleuna, a blocking TE that played for Martz in St. Louis, and who will complement the more offensively oriented Greg Olsen in the new offense.