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Bears Tue Jan 15 2013

Four Bears Starters Likely Out of a Job

Thumbnail image for GB bears icon.pngBy week's end, the Bears will have a new head coach. Reports last night had the team shaving the search down to three finalists after firing a shotgun into the air and interviewing anyone that flinched. The new lead dog will likely make his presence known with massive roster changes (mostly at the GMs doing, but the coach typically signs off). Here are five Bears starters that will likely have a new home.

Brian Urlacher

With a tip of the hat to Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary, Brian Urlacher is the best linebacker in the history of the franchise. Along with Ray Lewis (who's the best of all time), Urlacher redefined the middle linebacker position with his rare combination of size and speed that changed the way defenses could be played. He hit like linebackers had in the past, but covered the middle of the field better than most free safeties in zone coverage.

But all good things come to an end. A knee injury during the 2011 season finale left him hobbled for most of the year. Adding to the woes was a hamstring injury suffered late in the Seahawks game that ended his season (and potentially his career) with Chicago prematurely. He can still play the position, but doesn't have the quickness to have the type of impact you're used to seeing out of him. He turns 35 in May, and the Bears desperately need to get younger in their front seven. There's an outside chance he comes back on a one year deal, but I seriously doubt it.

Devin Hester

He's the greatest returner of all time, no question. But when he's not terrifying punters every time an opponent is stuck in third and long, he doesn't serve much of a purpose. The rule changes outlawing wedges and moving up the kickoff spot have hindered the number of chances he gets, and he simply hasn't been effective returning punts. The two steps and cut that was his staple turned into continuously running parallel to the endzones, and that leads to nowhere. His worst habit has become letting kicks he could run up and fair catch bounce for what had to be over a hundred yards over the course of the season.

He would certainly get another chance if he added anything as a receiver, but that ship sailed without him long ago. His routes aren't sharp (despite ridiculous high praise from Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall), and he drops far too many passes. His best case scenario was an Az Hakim type that ran nothing but nine routes, but the previous regime thought he could be responsible for a lot more.

To top it all off, Eric Weems is a special teams wiz in his own right, and teams can't waste roster spots on guys that are one-dimensional if they aren't making a major impact in that one area. Weems has.

J'Marcus Webb

Webb actually showed improvement as the season progressed, but the bar was set underground after a disastrous start. The team doesn't have as much invested in him as they do Gabe Carimi (a first round pick with guaranteed money), and the left tackle market is surprisingly loaded with a good mix of quality and quantity. The incoming coach knows that priority number one is protecting Cutler, and Webb can't do it without consistent help from a tight end or a running back.

Look for the Bears to go diving into the free agent market for someone who can handle the position while they spend their top draft picks trying to get younger on defense.

Kellen Davis

We heard for years how good Kellen Davis was. How much he was improving. How good of a blocker he was. Dude was quite possibly the worst player on the 53-man roster. He dropped nearly everything thrown to him, whiffed on countless blocks, and when he would somehow corral a pass, he'd fall down instantly or cough it up. Lovie Smith consistently defending Davis and talking highly about his skills might be one of the biggest reasons why he was shown the door (his talent evaluating was notoriously awful).

Part of the reason why the Bears struggled so mightily on offense at times is because they didn't have a weapon in the middle of the field. To counter, Marshall moved and motioned inside on a number of plays just to allow Cutler an opportunity to get the ball out quickly. A talented tight end is a must-have if you want to take an offense to the next level. Need proof? Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Vernon Davis, and future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez all play for the NFL's remaining four teams.

A new sheriff will be in Chicago by Saturday. You can bet most of these guys won't be once roster purging begins after the Super Bowl.

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