Thursday, February 21, 2013
Webb the starting LT again?
By Tim Kavanagh
One trend of opinion that has emerged this offseason regarding the Chicago Bears is that they'll be finding some new personnel for the offensive line, specifically at left tackle. The man who's occupied that position recently is J'Marcus Webb, and though he's had moments where he's looked like a starting-caliber LT, he's been inconsistent. But needing an upgrade and getting an upgrade are two entirely different things.
Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune has a column this week that may be disconcerting to those amongst the Bears faithful that are pining for an upgrade from Webb. By the time the Bears' first-round pick rolls around (No. 20 overall), the three players projected to being starters at LT at the NFL level -- Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson -- may be off the board. There are many other OT prospects, but they are either projected as RTs (such as D.J. Fluker), or as not being able to step in as a Day One starter (Menelik Watson, Terron Armstead, Justin Pugh and Ricky Wagner).
The free agent picture is tricky, too. The best options will simply be retained by their current teams; for instance, the Denver Broncos have already made it clear that they'll franchise tag Ryan Clady if a new deal with him can't be worked out by the March 4 deadline. One name to keep in mind is Branden Albert, currently a member of the Kansas City Chiefs. Bears GM Phil Emery's past employer was the Chiefs, so he has more information on Albert than some of the other available options; if K.C. lets Albert go, there's an obvious link to Chicago.
But, K.C. may not let Albert go, just as the Broncos won't let Clady go, the Giants likely won't let Will Beatty go and the Saints likely won't let Jermon Bushrod go. And if there's no one available as an upgrade, Webb will once again be the front-runner to start.