What is generally interesting about the Chicago Bears offseason acquisitions is that one, they seem to be solid players in their own right, but also that they seem to make a whole lot of sense for the Bears in the long run. In opposition to other Bear offseasons, I don't see the presence of too many players that have the moniker of "if this guy plays to what we all thought his potential was, he'll be a steal." The players that Phil Emery has been bringing in all seem to bring past success and future promise-- not one or the other. While I admit to being no kind of expert on these players, the Bears most recent acquisition --linebacker Geno Hayes -- seems to fit right in.
My exposure to what Hayes can and can't do is limited. I've seen him play a few games and watched him pop up on highlights from time-to-time, but I don't have a working knowledge of what he plays like on a game-to-game basis as a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan would. I've looked over his stats from his time with the Buccaneers and I have to say that I'm excited he is on board. In 56 games (42 starts), Hayes registered 334 tackles, 36 tackles-for-loss, seven sacks, four interceptions, 16 pass breakups, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. I'll let any Buccaneers fans burst my excitement bubble if there is some terrible downside with which I am unfamiliar, but for now, it looks like a really nice acquisition.
As Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs begin to escalate in their respective ages, there has been concern among Bears fans that the team needed to begin considering --potentially drafting -- their future replacements. I'm not suggesting that Hayes automatically fits that bill, but at only 24, and having the stats that he does, he certainly looks like a viable candidate.
What I have really enjoyed about the Bears free agent signings is that they are filling many of what would have been draft needs. This doesn't mean these positions will be neglected in the draft, but it will allow the Bears to have a much more focused draft. While I've been every-which-way on the direction the Bears should take in the first round of the draft, they are lessening the number of directions by all of their signings. While I didn't expect a linebacker in the first round, it is still nice to see them upgrade the position.
Now we can just wait for the offensive linemen to pour in.
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Bears fan, having lived in Illinois his entire life and having followed the NFL throughout.