Maybe Ted Phillips should have said “read my lips” before he said two weeks ago that the Chicago Bears would not go “hog wild” in free agency. Because that is just what the franchise did.
Despite what the club president said, the Bears finished off a trifecta of signings this afternoon as the club finalized a blockbuster for defensive end Julius Peppers, giving him the largest contract in franchise history with the hope that he can stabilize a unit and save the jobs of general manager Jerry Angelo and coach Lovie Smith.
The Bears are usually reserved with the McCaskey war chest in free agency, but they showed no restraint for the first time in bolting out of the gate to add Peppers, running back Chester Taylor and tight end Brandon Manumaleuna in a flurry of deals that totals nearly $100 million.
Of course, Peppers pulled down the big enchilada. He is expected to get a five- or six-year contract that is heavily frontloaded. He’ll be called on to revive the pass rush for a front four that hasn’t had much of one since the Bears went to the Super Bowl following the 2006 season.
Taylor is expected to replace Matt Forte as the starter, or at least share carries and he fits the Mike Martz offense well. Manumaleuna is the prototype that Martz seeks in tight ends.
Unanswered is a real hole at free safety. The Bears will likely assess the secondary free agent market or could address the issue in the draft.
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