During the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears were eyeing Miami linebacker Rocky McIntosh. Yet with the 35th overall pick, seven slots ahead of Chicago, the Washington Redskins selected McIntosh. The Bears instead chose safety Danieal Manning at 42nd overall.
McIntosh became a full-time starter at weak side linebacker the following season, a post he held until the Redskins switched to a 3-4 defense in 2010. He was then moved to inside linebacker, where he racked up a career-high 110 tackles. Last offseason, McIntosh re-signed with the club on a one-year deal, yet he struggled in 2011. In Week 9, he was benched in favor of Perry Riley. He ended the year as a reserve and special teams player.
LB Rocky McIntosh
In college, McIntosh played almost exclusively at outside linebacker, and was drafted to play the same position in Washington. Despite his tackle production in 2010, he does not belong inside. His best fit is outside where he can best utilize his quickness and speed. Trying to force him inside is the reason he’s no longer employed in Washington.
The Bears still think highly of McIntosh and, according to ESPNChicago.com, they will be bringing him in for a visit this week. Chicago is desperately thin at linebacker behind starters Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Nick Roach. Right now, an injury would force playing time on either Patrick Trahan or Dom DeCicco, neither of whom has any significant NFL experience.
McIntosh would provide depth and could challenge Roach for the starting spot on the strong side. Roach, while solid, was unspectacular last season. The club still isn’t sure if he’s a dependable long-term option.
Bringing in McIntosh shouldn’t surprise the astute observer. Back in 2007, when Briggs was openly complaining about his contract – for the first time – the Bears attempted to trade him to Washington in a deal that included a first-round draft pick and McIntosh. At the time, the Redskins weren’t willing to part with McIntosh and the deal fell through.
The current market for free agent linebackers is almost non-existent. With the NFL becoming pass happier by the season, a premium is now being put on cornerbacks and pass rushers, leaving linebackers out in the cold. As such, the Bears may be able to sign McIntosh at a significant discount, thus fitting him under the salary cap. The minimum salary for a six-year veteran is $700,000 in 2012.
For his career, McIntosh has started 69 games, recording 471 tackles, 8.0 sacks, three interceptions and eight forced fumbles.
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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.