In the past 24 hours, the Chicago Bears have re-signed CB Tim Jennings and QB Josh McCown, traded for WR Brandon Marshall, and signed three free agents – LB Blake Costanzo, WR Eric Weems and QB Jason Campbell.
And it appears the club is far from finished scouring the open market for potential roster additions.
Chicago is visiting with former Raiders running back Michael Bush today. Bush has been a very good rusher during his four years in Oakland. He’s played mostly a backup role to Darren McFadden, yet has seen plenty of action due to McFadden’s penchant for injury.
Bush has rushed for 2,642 yards and 21 touchdowns the past four seasons. His best year came in 2011, when he rushed for 977 yards. Bush also is an accomplished pass catcher, racking up 418 receiving yards on 37 receptions last year.
RB Michael Bush
He has all the physical tools and experience to be a quality starter in the NFL – the reason he’s the top running back in free agency. He has already visited with the Arizona Cardinals and will visit with the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday.
This is an interesting move, as the Bears have Matt Forte on a $7.7-million franchise tag and just tendered Kahlil Bell. Marion Barber has one foot out the door but Bush – like Campbell, his old teammate in Oakland – is more of a starter than a backup. Chicago could be trying to show Forte, who hasn’t yet signed his franchise tender, that there are other quality options out there.
Forte and the Bears will continue to work on a long-term deal before the July 16 deadline for players to sign their tags. For that reason, I find it unlikely the club will actually spend top dollar on his backup.
The only way I see the club signing Bush is if the front office feels they won’t be able to keep Forte after next season. And if that is the case, and they do feel Bush is necessary, they’ll have to pay out the nose for his services.
Herrera in town
The Bears are also meeting with former Vikings guard Anthony Herrera (6-2, 315). The 31-year-old has spent all eight of his NFL season in Minnesota. He was originally signed as an undrafted free agent in 2004 under then-head coach Mike Tice. He was recently released as a casualty of the salary cap.
Herrera has started 70 games during his career but has dealt with numerous injuries of late, appearing in just 22 games the past two seasons. He has experience at both center and guard.
Signing Herrera would give the Bears options along the offensive line. The club already has guards Chris Williams, Edwin Williams, Lance Louis and Chris Spencer on the current roster. Adding Herrera could possibly facilitate C. Williams’ move back to left tackle, the position for which he was originally drafted.
Hayden next up
The club is also meeting with CB Kelvin Hayden, a Chicago native who attended Joliet Junior College before transferring to the University of Illinois. Hayden (6-0, 200) is a former second-round selection of the Colts in 2005. He’s best remembered in Chicago for his pick-six off Rex Grossman, which sealed the win for Indianapolis over the Bears in Super Bowl XLI.
Hayden was on the Bears’ radar in 2011 as well. He visited with the team during training camp last year but failed his physical. He eventually signed with the Falcons, appearing in eight games last season and picking off two passes.
Hayden has experience playing in the Bears’ version of the Cover 2, having performed in the same system in Indianapolis. Bringing Hayden on board would provide Jennings competition for the starting spot opposite Charles Tillman.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of Bear Report magazine and 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.