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Nick Barnett believed to be on Bears radar
As the Bears look for a new starting middle linebacker for the first time in over a decade, they could wind up with a player who spent nearly a decade with the Green Bay Packers.
He makes a ton of sense for a number of reasons.
First, he probably wants to play for a winner. After injuries largely resulted in his eventual release from the Packers, Barnett rebounded strongly in Buffalo, where he didn’t miss a game, generated 242 tackles, five sacks, six passes defended, forced four fumbles and intercepted three passes. An All-Pro in 2007, Barnett’s a playmaker.
Second and most important, Barnett is supremely confident. I interviewed him a few times, when he was with the Packers, and Barnett struck me as the sort of player who doesn’t back down from a challenge and who will always be himself. Replacing Brian Urlacher at middle linebacker is a daunting task that goes beyond what a player does on a football field, and Barnett doesn’t strike me as someone who would be the least bit intimidated. That mindset, frankly, is nearly as important as how the player performs on the field.
Barnett, 31, probably has some options. The Miami Dolphins have been spending aggressively, and they have a need at the position. In addition, George Edwards was Barnett’s defensive coordinator in Buffalo, and he’s now the linebackers coach for the Dolphins.
Then there are two Packer ties: the Packers because they could use some depth and the Oakland Raiders because general manager Reggie McKenzie was a longtime member of the personnel department in Green Bay.
The Bears, though, need more than just one linebacker. Currently, J.T. Thomas appears to be the starter at strongside linebacker. So the club, if possible, would likely sign two veterans to very, team-friendly deals.
Among the veterans available: Karlos Dansby, Daryl Smith, Bart Scott, Takeo Spikes, Keith Brooking, Chase Blackburn, Michael Boley, Justin Durant, Mario Haggan and Kirk Morrison.