The Chicago Bears drafted CB Corey Graham in the fifth round of the 2007 draft. In his first four seasons, he made just 10 total starts yet proved himself as a quality contributor on special teams.
He signed a one-year free-agent contract with the Bears last offseason. He said the lockout didn’t allow him to truly test the open market, so he chose to return to a familiar place.
Yet throughout his career, Graham has always professed his desire to get more playing time on defense. For three games in 2011, he filled in for the injured D.J. Moore at nickelback. But beyond that, he contributed almost exclusively on special teams.
CB Corey Graham
Graham led the Bears in special teams tackles (22) last season, earning him a trip to the Pro Bowl. His 75 special teams tackles since 2007 are the third most in the NFL.
Still, the Bears were never willing to grant him more playing time at corner. As such, he signed a two-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens today.
"I believe it's a better situation for me and a better opportunity with a fresh start," Graham told the Chicago Tribune. "I gave the Bears every opportunity but they moved on. All around, Baltimore is just a better deal for me and my family."
Chicago was preparing for this move, signing two quality coverage players in Blake Costanzo and Eric Weems last week. Special teams coordinator Dave Toub has always built top-tier units despite the high turnover in personnel from season to season. Next year should be no different.
Bush ready to share the load
Michael Bush was considered the top running back on the free agent market. Yet in today’s NFL, where the two-back system is the norm, that apparently doesn’t mean much.
Bush signed a four-year deal with the Bears yesterday, a situation in which he’ll share carries with incumbent running back Matt Forte. Bush said he was surprised he couldn’t find a starting gig.
“Every meeting I went into everyone was saying they are trying to do the two-back system,” Bush said on a conference call with media yesterday.
He said he signed with Chicago because the team told him he would be a big part of the offense.
“I felt I could come here and help right off the bat. I felt like in the past I’ve been waiting and waiting for my turn to get enough carries to help the team. What I’ve been told is the rotation is going to be very good.
“I’m not stuck on how many carries I get. I just want to be out there and help the team.”
Bush’s deal pays him $14 million, with $7 million guaranteed. Forte will make $7.7 million under the franchise tag, assuming he signs the franchise tender. That could be tricky, as Forte made it know yesterday that he feels disrespected by the organization. A holdout definitely is not out of the question.
Bush said he understands Forte’s frustration.
“I can understand where the guy is coming from. He’s been everything they’ve asked for,” said Bush. “As a player myself, I’ve been through an injury. We drafted Darren McFadden with the Raiders. It was one of those things you want to be rewarded for your success. I understand.”
Urlacher still rehabbing knee
Brian Urlacher spoke on ESPN 1000’s “The Waddle & Silvy Show” this week and said his injured knee is not yet fully healed.
"I can't play golf yet, so no," Urlacher said. "There's some things I still can't do right now. When it's time for me to be healthy ... I haven't pushed it. I've done what I've been told to do. I've kind of stayed off of it for the most part. There's no reason for me to rush it right now.”
Urlacher damaged both his MCL and PCL in a collision with S Major Wright in the season finale last season. The initial diagnosis called for two months of rehabilitation.
“It was a pretty good injury, so I'm just trying to relax a little bit longer. Then when it's time to get going I'll be ready to go.
"I'll be fine. We have another month now before we even start our offseason [program]. Once we start running and stuff, I should be doing everything with the team."
Urlacher’s contract expires after this season but he said he hasn’t yet discussed a new deal with the club.
“I haven't [talked to the team about a restructure or extension], no. I'm not worried about me," he said. "I know there's a lot of guys they've got to take care of right now. I'm sure if I play well enough and stay healthy that'll all get taken care of. I don't want to go anywhere else. I want to be here.
"It's always nice having the security of a couple of years on your deal. The Bears have been very good to me. So I can't really complain. They've treated me very well. I don't see that changing; as long as I keep playing well and staying on the field I don't think it's going to be an issue."
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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.