One weekend remains until GM Phil Emery embarks upon this all-too-important 2012 free agency period. How does he add the pieces necessary to elevate a very good 2011 Bears team (with healthy quarterback) to full blown championship contender? How does he do so while also beginning to construct depth at aging positions across the roster? How will he spend the nearly $30 million in cap promised to the roster by McCaskey/Phillips as they announced a hike in ticket sales?
Here’s one thing Emery can’t do if he hopes to gain favor in the court of public Bears fan opinion: wait. No Chicago Bears season has ever ended quite the way 2011 did. Anticipation reached a feverish pitch as the Bears reached 7-3 but the guidos left the beach as Roy Williams dropped a ball at the goal line, Marion Barber ran out of bounds and Caleb Hanie did a whole bunch of Caleb Hanie things. (This will hopefully be the last mention of Hanie in this column.) Bears fans wanted the 2012 season to start before the 2011 season ended.
Emery must act decisively. If Bears fans are forced to sit silently in front of their televisions as Vincent Jackson signs in New England and Mario Williams moves to the Meadowlands, they will grow impatient. If Bears fans are forced to hear carefully-worded rationales as to why Kamerion Wimbley and Pierre Garcon actually make the Bears better (at cost) they will grow impatient. Fans know where the roster holes are in Chicago and they want those holes filled. They know the Chicago Bears have money and they want that money spent. (Especially in the absence of a long term Matt Forte contract.)
Just imagine the clock striking midnight on Tuesday March 13th. You’ve put your kids to bed hours ago. The wife is snoring on the couch. You jump on the old Twitter feed or check ESPN News one more time before lights out and read, “Bears, Mario Williams Finalizing Contract.” Talk about playing the remainder of the offseason with the house’s money.