Angelo: Bears feel good about safeties they have

The Chicago Bears are going to see what the draft brings them next week before exploring alternate options for help in the secondary.

That is essentially what general manager Jerry Angelo announced on the team’s Web site this morning, saying that the Bears did consider a veteran free safety but they “didn’t feel the timing was right.”

That’s not a surprise. There simply hasn’t been much on the market that would offer even the Bears an upgrade over what they currently have. Safety is believed to be the team’s greatest need going into a draft in which it doesn’t own a first- or second-round draft pick, and cornerback isn’t too far off. Coach Lovie Smith has talked about the need to add some depth at the position, and that’s still a priority even after the signing of veteran Tim Jennings, which led to the release of Nathan Vasher.

“Right now we would be comfortable starting with the present cast of players at the position,” Angelo announced. “Certainly it’s a much talked about position. I’m talking about the safeties and the corners, and we’re going to look hard at that. We did sign Tim Jennings, a young player with talent that has familiarity with the scheme. We looked at a veteran safety, but we felt that we wanted to pass on that.

“So we’ll just wait and see. Again, you’re not going to field a Pro Bowler at every position, and you don’t have to. The players that we presently have we feel good about. But we always want to create competition and better depth.”

The problem with proceeding with the status quo, especially at safety, is that the status quo has been the cause for much of the change in the secondary. The Bears don’t seem to know what they want to do at the position. For instance, Danieal Manning worked exclusively at nickel cornerback last offseason before Smith announced on the eve of training camp that he would be playing free safety. That pushed aside Craig Steltz, who had spent the entire offseason there. Fast forward to the end of the year and Manning was benched and Steltz was back in what looked to be a starting role.

Now, the Bears are saying Manning could be in the mix at strong safety. It’s this type of indecision and injuries that have fueled 41 changes in starting free and strong safeties for Smith over a course of 96 regular-season games. Dizzy yet?

Look for a safety to be one of the first two picks made by the Bears. Angelo talks about not wanting to be hostage to a position, but that’s exactly what the Bears are entering this draft. Otherwise, it’s back to the same cast of players with the knowledge that the same type of turnover is going to occur.

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