-- Chuck; Guilin, China
Generally speaking, I almost always would advocate going big in the first round if things are equal. We have no way of knowing yet how free agency will play out, or how the first 18 picks will go. But if there is a quality defensive end available at No. 19, I don't think there is any question that should be the Bears' priority. Given the lack of pass rush at times last year, and given that the team is aging quickly on the defensive side of the ball, the Bears need a young defender to build around. I would be less inclined to choose a guard in the first round, but if a difference maker at offensive tackle were still on the board, I'd look long and hard at him.
-- Phil Keith, Milwaukee
They are similar wide receivers. Both are very good players. Both have been very productive. Both players cause mismatches because of their size. Both have benefited from playing with outstanding quarterbacks and in ideal conditions. Their hands are decent, not great. Even though both players are about the same size (6-5, 230 for Jackson versus 6-4, 225 for Colston), Jackson is a more physical receiver. Colston might be a little faster and moreexplosive. From what I'm hearing, both could be available, probably at a price of about $9 million a year. Jackson might be a better fit for the
, but either would look good in a Bears uniform. Jackson and Colston aren't the only attractive potential free agent wide receiver for the Bears. Others who could be on the market include
-- Martin G., Philadelphia
The trade market for wide receivers in body casts usually isn't too inviting. Knox is virtually untradeable in his current state. If the rehab goes well and Knox can get back to what he was, the Bears will be glad to have him. Furthermore, the Bears do not appear to be in any position to be trading any wide receiver. Even assuming they will add a big gun, their depth at the position still is questionable.
; Hawley, Penn.
It might come down to whether or not the Bears want to invest in a big time wide receiver or a big time tight end, assuming Finley hits the open market. You can't have everything you want because cash and cap space are limited. Finely would be an outstanding addition to the Bears because of the reasons you delineated. But adding him would not alleviate the need for a wide receiver. We have to be careful about making too many assumptions about how Tice wants to use the tight end. Just because he used to be a tight end doesn't mean anything. Martz is a former tight end too. In Tice's time in Minnesota, his tight ends were not big parts of the offense in his first two years. But in both of his last two years, tight end
led the team in catches.
-- Gary Peterson; Virginia Beach, Va.
Forte would have to sign his contract before the first regular season game in order to be paid in full in the scenario you describe. There would be no fines if he held out from training camp and preseason. If the Bears tag Forte and they want to keep negotiating with him, they would be unable to sign him to a multi-year contract after July 15.
-- David J. Frazin, Highland Park
There is no question Davis has the tools. The question is if he use them consistently. Davis has an unusual blend of size, hands, speed and athleticism. He rarely has put them together though. Some of it might be attributed to inexperience. But he's been in the league for four years now, so it's time for him to grow up as a player. Davis finished the season strong and the best should be ahead for him.
Why was Jeremy Bates out of football last year? Did he get fired in Seattle and if he is so good why didn't he have a job in the NFL this past season?
-- Chip, Wichita
Bates was fired in Seattle for a couple of reasons, according to people I've spoken with who are familiar with the situation. The primary reason is the
offense wasn't very good. The second reason is he didn't mesh well with everyone in the building. He is known for being a bit prickly. He is, however, a football junkie who has a passion for the game and is good at what he does. A lot of head coaches are leery of adding a coach who is potentially combustible, which explains why Bates was out of football last year.
-- R. Lenser, Glenview
There is nothing slow about Conte. He ran a 4.52 40 yard dash when auditioning for NFL teams last year. If I had to bet on one of the Bears defensive backs in a foot race, I'd bet on Conte or
. But it takes more than speed to play safety. It mostly takes instincts. I think Conte has them, but a lot of safeties don't. The Bears coaching staff obviously questions Graham's instincts to play the safety position. Graham looked pretty good at nickel corner last year though.
-- Brian, Providence, R.I.
If the Bears are going to spend big money on one or two players, they have bigger fish to fry than a safety in my opinion. Conte should be a fine player.
finished strong, but he is going to be a free agent. The Bears could re-sign him and let him compete with
and maybe add a mid-round pick to the mix. My expectation is Landry will be hit with the franchise tag by the