Free agency is about big splashes and big paydays but it is also about teams finding bargains that can pay off in the long run. Could the Chicago Bears do that by investing in Dustin Keller and Andy Levitre?
New York Jets and Buffalo Bills cut costs with Keller and Levitre
Dustin Keller and Andy Levitre have nothing to feel bad about. Sometimes players just don't fit on a roster anymore. The reasons can vary. For Keller, the New York Jets felt it best to save cap space but also not risk a long-term commitment to him after he missed most of 2012 with a pulled groin and high ankle sprain. At age 28 he still has plenty of years left and is a solid all-around tight end who was a favorite target for Jets quarterback Marc Sanchez. As for Levitre, the Buffalo Bills are simply in a tough spot. If they brought him back on a new deal they could end up paying over $15 million to the interior of their offensive line when including center Eric Wood and right guard Kraig Urbik. That is too much for a team still looking for answers at quarterback and on defense. Both players deserve new deals in free agency. The question is where will they go and how much will they demand?
Jay Cutler continues to dominate Bears NFL draft strategy
Experts seem convinced of late that the entire top half of the upcoming NFL draft is an easy prediction for Chicago. They will either go for an offensive lineman or a tight end with a minor chance of picking up a replacement linebacker for Brian Urlacher. What is clear is fans grow overzealous towards using the draft entirely on building around quarterback Jay Cutler. The team has a new head coach in Marc Trestman who brings an offensive philosophy to the franchise. That in turn presents a problem. History shows it isn't the greatest idea for a team to suddenly commit their resources towards one side of the football. In fact, many times it shows that free agency and the low end of the draft are more than sufficient to keep an offense strong under an offensive coach while higher picks can safely fuel the defense. Besides, the Bears have needs there too. Their top four stars (Urlacher, Julius Peppers, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman) are all over 30-years old. It would ease the fears of fans if they could add a young talent to the mix. That is where free agency comes in. Keller and Levitre aren't cheap additions but are definitely more affordable than the biggest names on the market. Keller has his injury issues while Levitre is a guard. It's just simple luck that the two of them fill critical needs for Chicago.
Jay Cutler needs the most help from the Chicago Bears for sure. That doesn't mean they should hold the entire NFL draft hostage to get it. Dustin Keller and Andy Levitre don't dominate headlines. That doesn't mean they can become key pieces to the championship puzzle.
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