The secondary phase of free agency might not offer much in the way of splash additions, although center Stefen Wisniewski remains available, but there are good players available that can fill needs. It’s about finding the right fits at the right price for a team with holes to patch on both sides of the ball.
“We have a lot of needs,” Fox said Saturday night at the NFL owners meeting. “There are still a lot of green rectangles on a board. There are still two pools of players. There are still a lot of guys left in (secondary) free agency, which I prefer dealing with anyways, not the jump-out-in-front (signings). When you get it going good, you don’t have to do that.”
There is also the draft so general manager Ryan Pace needs to balance additions he can make now vs. what can possibly be added in this year’s rookie class. Fox is upbeat about the signings to this point – outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, wide receiver Eddie Royal, safety Antrel Rolle, guard Vladimir Ducasse and long snapper Thomas Gafford. The team also re-signed tight end Dante Rosario earlier this week.
Fox coached Royal for one season in Denver and the Bears believe he can help in a variety of ways on offense, especially in the slot where they didn’t have a productive contributor last season.
“He’s a veteran guy that we think is playing his best,” he said.
It figures the Bears will look to make one more addition at wide receiver, possibly in the draft where the position is rich in talent but Fox and Pace have been upbeat about younger players on the roster.
Rolle, 32, provides needed help at safety and Fox believes his contributions will extend beyond the field.
“He’s a guy I have coached in a couple of Pro Bowls,” he said. “I can’t identify leadership on our defense at this point. I’m not saying we don’t have any, I don’t know. I know this guy does have those abilities.”
Fox remains a little reticent to talk about who will be lining up where. For starters, he hasn’t been able to address the players at length to share with them his thoughts. As he likes to say, until he sees them on the grass, he doesn’t want to make any bold commitments either. There are some fluid parts to the roster at this early stage.
“I look at tape and you see a bunch of things,” he said. “Until I see guys practice I don’t like going too far any direction.”