On Wednesday, the Chicago Bears formally announced they would be parting ways with future Hall of Fame LB Brian Urlacher. That announcement came days after the Bears lost 2 other LBs in Free Agency with starting OLB Nick Roach signing with the Raiders, and reserve LB Geno Hayes joining the Jacksonville Jaguars. Ever since then, the Bears have moved quickly to re-load their thin LB corps, starting with the signing of former Broncos LB D.J. Williams on Friday. Now, the Bears have added another experienced starter in the form of former Panthers LB James Anderson. As beat writer Zach Zeidman reported:
#Bears agreed to terms with LB James Anderson on a one-year contract.
— Zach Zaidman (@ZachZaidman) March 24, 2013
James Anderson will provide the Bears with another solid and experienced starter to plug into their defense, as they needed to replace 2 starters in their LB corps following the departures of both Urlacher (MLB) and Roach (SLB). While with the Panthers, James Anderson would set the franchise record for games played by a LB with 94 during his 7 seasons in Carolina. Where D.J. Williams was declared to be the new starter at the “Mike” LB position, it will be safe to assume James Anderson will be coming in as the new starter at “Sam” (SLB) in place of Nick Roach. Of those 94 games played, he registered 53 starts at LB, with 44 starts being at SLB. This is an excellent match in that James Anderson will be playing in a similar style of defense he was used to playing under Head Coach Ron Rivera, who once was the Bears’ LB coach and later Defensive Coordinator.
As it stands, the 2013 Chicago Bears’ starting line-up at LB will be: Lance Briggs (WLB), D.J. Williams (MLB), and James Anderson (SLB). Overall, I can honestly say Bears fans shouldn’t worry about a noticeable drop-off in performance with their LB corps. While neither D.J. Williams or James Anderson will make Bears fans forget about Brian Urlacher when he was in his prime, both players are dependable in run support, and athletic enough to make plays in zone coverage. Topped off with a Pro-Bowler in Lance Briggs, and you have yourself a strong and seasoned starting line-up that will be tough to game plan against. Ultimately, Bears GM Phil Emery has placed himself as well as the team in a position where they can achieve maximum flexibility in the upcoming draft. It is widely expected that the Bears will select a LB at some point in the draft, but now they can focus on getting the best player available, instead of finding an immediate solution to any position of need.