At Halas Hall this morning, free-agent linebacker Nick Roach had breakfast with coach Lovie Smith, coordinator Rod Marinelli and linebackers coach Bob Babich, as first reported by Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. The staff made it clear to Roach they would like him to return to the team once the veteran free-agency period begins on Friday.
Bear Report touted the re-signing of Roach as a crucial offseason move, especially considering the club only has two linebackers currently under contract. The team obviously agrees.
Roach is a long-term option as the starting strong-side linebacker. He has only missed three games in four seasons due to injury. He's been an on-and-off starter during his time in Chicago, serving as the backup to Pisa Tinoisamoa the last two seasons. When Tinoisamoa went on IR after a knee injury in 2009, Roach started 15 games, racking up 75 tackles, 2.0 sacks and three forced fumbles.
LB Nick Roach
After coming into the league as an undrafted free agent, the now 26-year-old has improved each year as a professional. He's a hard hitter who is stout against the run and creates turnovers. His knowledge of Chicago's system would allow the linebacking corps to hit the ground running once training camp begins.
"They want him back," Roach's agent Josh Wright told the Tribune. "That's as far as the message has gone right now. We will see how it plays out."
There is news that three unnamed teams have also expressed interest in Roach, which could create a bidding war for his services. If his price tag becomes too steep, the Bears may choose to go an alternate route. The Tribune reported that the team has contacted the agent of former Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Justin Durant.
Durant has been on Bear Report's radar for months now and it appears the same goes for the organization. The 25-year-old is a serious injury risk but he has all the tools to play SAM in Chicago's 4-3 scheme. Seven teams are apparently interested in Durant as well, so the team may have to overpay for his services.
No matter who the front office signs, expect a large cadre of linebackers fighting for roster spots once training camp is underway.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.