They say no starting left tackles exist in free agency anymore. That's true, at least for now. Then again the Chicago Bears might want to think about the future with Marcus McNeill before a team like the Atlanta Falcons take him first.
Jay Cutler explained his concern in Bears offensive line
When fans have problems with a place on a football roster, its general. When the quarterback shows that same concern, it opens eyes. Jay Cutler did that when he went on record saying he had some misgivings about the Chicago offensive line. The 2012 NFL off-season hasn't gone poorly at all for Cutler. New general manager Phil Emery brought in a Pro Bowl receiver in Brandon Marshall, another capable running back in Michael Bush and drafted a highly rated receiver in Alshon Jeffery. The one area Emery took a gamble not to draft was offensive line and Cutler would not forgive himself if he didn't speak up about it. Since 2010, the Chicago Bears quarterback got sacked 75 times in just 26 regular season games. That doesn't count the preseason or the postseason. Windy City faithful question how much faith Emery and the team coaches have in the players already on the roster. While first round pick Gabe Carimi will return healthy to play right tackle, the line is still unsettled. J'Marcus Webb is only 23 years old playing left tackle but already has one of the lowest ratings in the league at his spot. In truth the Bears would love to replace him with someone better but neither the draft nor free agency went that way. So is there any way to solve the problem? Not now, but the team might have overlooked a solution for the future.
Atlanta and Detroit Lions have some interest in McNeill despite injury
Most people thought Marcus McNeilll was the next great left tackle in the NFL. Drafted by the San Diego Chargers he finished fourth in the voting for 2006 Rookie of the Year and helped LaDainian Tomlinson score 31 touchdowns and win the league MVP that same year. He went to two-straight Pro Bowls but then started having some bad luck that mostly came from injuries. The latest is a lingering back issue that finally forced San Diego to move on. Since then few teams have had the courage to sign him, fearing the injury problems won't go away. Two squads though at least kicked the tires by calling his agent. The first were the Detroit Lions who hoped to find a younger replacement for Jeff Backus. Another surprising franchise was the Atlanta Falcons. As Matt Ryan becomes the focus of Super Bowl hopes inGeorgia, protecting him takes top priority. The Falcons coaches say they trust current starter Sam Baker but fans and experts don't agree. Some think the team should risk a deal for McNeill. He is only 28 and given some time could fully recover from his injuries. One team that should have equal interest is the Bears. As aChicago native he would get welcomed by the fans and could fight for a starting spot immediately once given a clean bill of health.
Phil Emery made in clear through free agency and the NFL draft that it's time to get younger and start building around Jay Cutler. Marcus McNeill isn't the left tackle he was back in 2007 but at 28 he still has time to recapture that form. The Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions might still change their minds. If the Chicago Bears are smart, they'll take the risk.