What if the Bears strike out in FA?

The Chicago Bears have been linked to just about every big-name free agent on the market since this past weekend in Indianapolis.

Julius Peppers has been the headliner, but let’s not forget about the Packers’ Aaron Kampman, the Cardinals’ Antrel Rolle, Chester Taylor of the Vikings and Kyle Vanden Bosch of the Titans.

And as the weekend wore on in Indianapolis, TE Greg Olsen was reportedly on his way out of town.

The Bears haven’t been quiet in the fact that they will explore the free agent market. The draft for Chicago this year is pretty light after the picks they gave up in the Jay Cutler deal, and if they want to “improve” certain positions — as Lovie Smith talked about at the combine — then this weekend is the time to write some checks.

But, what if they miss — and miss badly?

Could you imagine the Bears going into the draft — the later rounds of the draft — with a bunch of second-tier free agents that they had to settle for because they were either outbid or just left in the dark completely by the “A-list” players on the market?

The Bears are not big spenders when matched up with a team like Washington and owner Daniel Snyder, and the question I have is how high they will go. A player like Peppers — who is the No. 1 free agent — is going to demand big, big money. Does GM Jerry Angelo and the McCaskey family have the ability to go toe-to-toe with Snyder for Peppers?

It is an interesting situation, as the Bears need defensive end help, offensive linemen and a free safety for Lovie Smith’s defense.

It is hard to find “NFL-ready” talent in the later rounds of the draft, and in this regard, the Bears need to strike some gold this weekend in the free agent market. Peppers? That is a luxury item that may be out of reach, but a Kampman, a Ryan Clark of Pittsburgh — those are players that fit the price range of Chicago and can contribute immediately this September.

When you have some glaring needs at key positions and little ammo for the draft, this weekend becomes bigger than we all think. And, you can’t come up empty.

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