Enemy Intel: Bears 2013 outlook

Enemy Intel: Bears 2013 outlook
March 25, 2013, 2:30 pm
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Two weeks into free agency, the Redskins haven’t done much due to the crippling, $18 million NFL-imposed salary cap penalty. But that doesn’t mean their 2013 opponents haven’t been busy adding players, filling holes and reshaping rosters. Recently, we examined Washington’s NFC East foes, the Giants, Eagles and Cowboys. In the coming weeks, we’re going to check in with the rest of the teams who appear on the Redskins’ schedule next season.

Team: Bears

2012 record: 10-6

Key acquisitions: TE Martellus Bennett, TE Steve Maneri, OT Jermon Bushrod, DE Turk McBride, LB D.J. Williams, LB James Anderson, S Tom Zbikowski

2013 outlook: Lost in all the hubbub surrounding the departure of Brian Urlacher, at least nationally, was that Bears GM Phil Emery seems to have enjoyed a pretty productive first two weeks of free agency.

On the opening day, Emery nabbed one of the top tight ends available in Martellus Bennett and a two-time Pro Bowl left tackle in Jermon Bushrod.

Urlacher, meantime, has been replaced by the talented but troubled D.J. Williams, who is coming off a 2012 season in Denver that included suspensions for PEDs and an impaired driving conviction. Another starting linebacker, former Panther James Anderson, inked a one-year deal on Sunday.

The remaking of the Bears’ defense didn’t end there. Emery also added a number of veteran depth pieces such as defensive end Turk McBride, who is insurance in case Israel Idonije leaves via free agency, and safety Tom Zbikowski, who will likely back up Major Wright.

And there’s no sign that Emery is done bolstering next season’s roster for first-year coach Marc Trestman. Despite a lack of cap space, it’s always possible the team will re-work a contract or two in order to keep shopping, according to a report in Monday’s Chicago Tribune.

On offense, Jay Cutler now has a pass catching tight end to target. Last season with the Giants, Bennett established career highs in receptions (55), yards (626) and (5). Cutler will also have Bushrod, who signed a five-year $20 million contract, watching his blindside. In 2012, Cutler was the fifth most sacked quarterback in the NFL.

Do the moves mean the Bears will be more formidable in 2013? On paper, it sure looks as though they will be.