Monster day: Bears turn their fortune in spending frenzy

Give a general manager beaucoup bucks a few days before the NFL free-agent market opens and guess what he’s going to do? If he’s Jerry Angelo of the Chicago Bears, he’s going to spend it on upgrading his team.
 
Why is Bears GM Jerry Angelo smiling? Wouldn't you after the day he had?
Why is Bears GM Jerry Angelo smiling? Wouldn’t you after the day he had?

Backed by a $25 million windfall from the McCaskey family, Angelo made the biggest splash on the opening day of free agency Friday when he signed, in order, former San Diego Chargers tight end Brandon Manumaleuna, former Minnesota Vikings running back Chester Taylor, and — trumpet blast, please — former Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers.

 
Note to the rest of the NFC North teams: The Bears’ run for the 2010 playoffs officially has begun.
 
This is usually the time of year when Dan Snyder and the Washington Redskins dominate the NFL headlines. Instead, it was the Bears who surprised everyone on Day 1. With the Bears bereft of a draft pick until the third round, it would not be an exaggeration to say desperation drove Angelo’s spending; after all, if the team doesn’t make the playoffs next season, he and coach Lovie Smith likely will be fired.
 
"I’m not with everybody else, that it’s a sign of desperation," former Bears quarterback and current NFL Sirius Radio host Jim Miller said, "but I do think they had to make a splash because they don’t have a first- or second-round pick. So it makes sense they were pretty aggressive."
 
Not surprisingly, Angelo spent over his budget — way over his budget. If the additions help propel the Bears to a division title, it will have been worth it.
 
Here’s a breakdown on the three (new) Bears:
 

Julius Peppers

Reported contract: Six years, $72 million ($36 million to $40 million guaranteed in the first three years).

Chicago's hope: Chester Taylor, Julius Peppers, Brandon Manumaleuna
Chicago’s hope: Chester Taylor, Julius Peppers, Brandon Manumaleuna

Why his addition will work: One of the premier pass rushers in the NFL, Peppers instantly improves one of the Bears’ weaknesses last season. He has had double-digit sacks in six of his eight seasons.

 
Why his addition might not work: He has a reputation for not playing hard all the time, although he apparently played much of last season with a broken hand and still had 10 1/2 sacks. If defensive tackle Tommie Harris and middle linebacker Brian Urlacher can’t stay healthy or make their own impacts, opponents will double-team Peppers.
 
An observation: "The guy’s a monster, he’s an animal," Bears defensive end Alex Brown said, speaking on Chicago sports-talk radio show "Waddle and Silvy." "He’s the biggest guy and the fastest guy I think I’ve ever seen."
 

Chester Taylor

Reported contract: Four years, $12.5 million ($7 million guaranteed in the first year).

Why his addition will work: He’s a veteran back who can do everything — rush, catch passes and block. Injuries hampered second-year back Matt Forte last season, and the Bears didn’t have much of a running threat behind him.
 
Why his addition might not work: Taylor has averaged 97.5 carries over the past two seasons. He and Forte are similar backs; neither one offers a change of pace.
 
An observation: "I thought they would go after someone who’s more dynamic," Miller said. "I know he has the concussion issue, but Brian Westbrook is a little more dynamic. Although don’t get me wrong; Taylor is solid."
 

Brandon Manumaleuna

Reported contract: Five years, more than $17 million ($6 million guaranteed).

Why his addition will work: He played in the same offense new coordinator Mike Martz is installing in Chicago when he played for Martz in St. Louis. He’s one of the NFL’s best blocking tight ends.
 
Why his addition might not work: Manumaleuna has mainly been a situational player during his career. If his addition leads to the exit of Greg Olsen, the Bears’ leading receiver last season, quarterback Jay Cutler might not be happy.
 
An observation: "He’s 6-2, 295, perfect for what Mike Martz wants to do," Miller said.
 
In the three seasons since they lost to Indianapolis in Super Bowl 41, the Bears have gone 7-9, 9-7 and 7-9, and they haven’t been back to the playoffs. Miller believes they could have won at least three more games in ’09 if Cutler had made a few better decisions.
 
"That team is a little bit better than people give them credit for," Miller said. "They probably could have squeaked out three more wins just on their quarterback play alone."  
 
One player who probably isn’t happy to see Peppers come to the NFC North is Vikings left tackle Bryant McKinnie. During a Week 15 game against the Vikings last season, Peppers had a sack and three quarterback hurries. He so overwhelmed McKinnie that the Pro Bowl tackle got benched during the second half.
 
Now, thanks to the generosity of Angelo and the Bears, McKinnie can look forward to playing against Peppers twice a season.
 
This story appears in March 6’s edition of Sporting News Today. If you are not receiving Sporting News Today, the only daily digital sports newspaper, sign up today.
 
Senior writer Dennis Dillon covers the NFL for Sporting News. E-mail him at ddillon@sportingnews.com.
Give a general manager beaucoup bucks a few days before the NFL free-agent market opens and guess what he’s going to do? If he’s Jerry Angelo of the Chicago Bears, he’s going to spend it on upgrading his team.
 
Why is Bears GM Jerry Angelo smiling? Wouldn't you after the day he had?
Why is Bears GM Jerry Angelo smiling? Wouldn’t you after the day he had?

Backed by a $25 million windfall from the McCaskey family, Angelo made the biggest splash on the opening day of free agency Friday when he signed, in order, former San Diego Chargers tight end Brandon Manumaleuna, former Minnesota Vikings running back Chester Taylor, and — trumpet blast, please — former Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers.

 
Note to the rest of the NFC North teams: The Bears’ run for the 2010 playoffs officially has begun.
 
This is usually the time of year when Dan Snyder and the Washington Redskins dominate the NFL headlines. Instead, it was the Bears who surprised everyone on Day 1. With the Bears bereft of a draft pick until the third round, it would not be an exaggeration to say desperation drove Angelo’s spending; after all, if the team doesn’t make the playoffs next season, he and coach Lovie Smith likely will be fired.
 
"I’m not with everybody else, that it’s a sign of desperation," former Bears quarterback and current NFL Sirius Radio host Jim Miller said, "but I do think they had to make a splash because they don’t have a first- or second-round pick. So it makes sense they were pretty aggressive."
 
Not surprisingly, Angelo spent over his budget — way over his budget. If the additions help propel the Bears to a division title, it will have been worth it.
 
Here’s a breakdown on the three (new) Bears:
 

Julius Peppers

Reported contract: Six years, $72 million ($36 million to $40 million guaranteed in the first three years).

Chicago's hope: Chester Taylor, Julius Peppers, Brandon Manumaleuna
Chicago’s hope: Chester Taylor, Julius Peppers, Brandon Manumaleuna

Why his addition will work: One of the premier pass rushers in the NFL, Peppers instantly improves one of the Bears’ weaknesses last season. He has had double-digit sacks in six of his eight seasons.

 
Why his addition might not work: He has a reputation for not playing hard all the time, although he apparently played much of last season with a broken hand and still had 10 1/2 sacks. If defensive tackle Tommie Harris and middle linebacker Brian Urlacher can’t stay healthy or make their own impacts, opponents will double-team Peppers.
 
An observation: "The guy’s a monster, he’s an animal," Bears defensive end Alex Brown said, speaking on Chicago sports-talk radio show "Waddle and Silvy." "He’s the biggest guy and the fastest guy I think I’ve ever seen."
 

Chester Taylor

Reported contract: Four years, $12.5 million ($7 million guaranteed in the first year).

Why his addition will work: He’s a veteran back who can do everything — rush, catch passes and block. Injuries hampered second-year back Matt Forte last season, and the Bears didn’t have much of a running threat behind him.
 
Why his addition might not work: Taylor has averaged 97.5 carries over the past two seasons. He and Forte are similar backs; neither one offers a change of pace.
 
An observation: "I thought they would go after someone who’s more dynamic," Miller said. "I know he has the concussion issue, but Brian Westbrook is a little more dynamic. Although don’t get me wrong; Taylor is solid."
 

Brandon Manumaleuna

Reported contract: Five years, more than $17 million ($6 million guaranteed).

Why his addition will work: He played in the same offense new coordinator Mike Martz is installing in Chicago when he played for Martz in St. Louis. He’s one of the NFL’s best blocking tight ends.
 
Why his addition might not work: Manumaleuna has mainly been a situational player during his career. If his addition leads to the exit of Greg Olsen, the Bears’ leading receiver last season, quarterback Jay Cutler might not be happy.
 
An observation: "He’s 6-2, 295, perfect for what Mike Martz wants to do," Miller said.
 
In the three seasons since they lost to Indianapolis in Super Bowl 41, the Bears have gone 7-9, 9-7 and 7-9, and they haven’t been back to the playoffs. Miller believes they could have won at least three more games in ’09 if Cutler had made a few better decisions.
 
"That team is a little bit better than people give them credit for," Miller said. "They probably could have squeaked out three more wins just on their quarterback play alone."  
 
One player who probably isn’t happy to see Peppers come to the NFC North is Vikings left tackle Bryant McKinnie. During a Week 15 game against the Vikings last season, Peppers had a sack and three quarterback hurries. He so overwhelmed McKinnie that the Pro Bowl tackle got benched during the second half.
 
Now, thanks to the generosity of Angelo and the Bears, McKinnie can look forward to playing against Peppers twice a season.
 
This story appears in March 6’s edition of Sporting News Today. If you are not receiving Sporting News Today, the only daily digital sports newspaper, sign up today.
 
Senior writer Dennis Dillon covers the NFL for Sporting News. E-mail him at ddillon@sportingnews.com.

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