Bears could address need at linebacker in middle rounds

Posted April 16, 2011 @ 2:35 p.m.
Posted By Dan Parr

With free agency on hold because of the league's work stoppage, the Bears will enter the draft with only two linebackers under contract. Sources don't expect them to address linebacker early in the draft, however. The needs on the offensive and defensive line will be higher priorities.

The stalwarts and perennial Pro Bowlers in the linebacker corps, MLB Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, are both locked in, but the two players that shared time on the strong side last season, Nick Roach and Pisa Tinoisamoa, are due to become free agents. The Bears would like to have Roach back — they issued him a restricted free-agent tender this offseason, and he'll be restricted if the league operates under the same rules that it did in the 2009 and '10 offseasons. Tinoisamoa, who has dealt with knee injuries over the past two seasons, is on the team's radar, but may be only a fall-back option at this point.

Chicago hasn't had much success drafting linebackers since Briggs was selected in '03. The Bears have not spent a pick on a linebacker before the third round since Urlacher was selected ninth overall in '00 and none of the five 'backers they've drafted since '04 were on the roster last season, but their linebacker corps is considered one of the league's best with Briggs and Urlacher in tow.

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