2013 Cap hit for all LB’s – $5.0m (4.7% of team spend) Players under contract: Akeem Ayers (6’3”, 254) – 23 years old 2013 Cap Number - $1.342m ($0.822m salary + $0.520m SB pro-rata) 2014 Cap Number – $1.576m ($1.046m salary + $0.520m SB pro-rata) 2015 Cap Number – UFA Colin McCarthy (6’1”, 238) – 24 years old 2013 Cap Number - $0.678m ($0.555m salary + $0.113 SB pro-rata) 2014 Cap Number – $0.758m ($0.645m salary + $0.113m SB pro-rata) 2015 Cap Number – UFA Zach Brown (6’1”, 242) – 23 years old 2013 Cap Number – $0.876m ($0.565m salary + $0.311m SB pro-rata) 2014 Cap Number – $1.052m ($0.741m salary + $0.311m SB pro-rata) 2015 Cap Number – $1.227m ($0.916m salary + $0.311m SB pro-rata) Patrick Bailey (6’4”, 235) – 27 years old 2013 Cap Number – $1.07m ($0.97m salary + $0.1m SB pro-rata) 2014 Cap Number – $1.3m ($1.2m salary + $0.1m SB pro-rata) 2015 Cap Number – UFA Tim Shaw (6’1”, 236) – 28 years old 2013 Cap Number – $1.07m ($0.97m salary + $0.1m SB pro-rata) 2014 Cap Number – $1.3m ($1.2m salary + $0.1m SB pro-rata) 2015 Cap Number – UFA Expired contracts Zac Diles Xavier Adibi Gerald McRath Will Witherspoon 3 burning questions 1. Can McCarthy stay healthy? This time last year, there was unbridled optimism that we had found our best MLB since Randall Godfrey and a bonafide starter for the next 5 years. One season and a number of injuries later and there is some questions surrounding McCarthy that will take a while to go away. Both his quality and quantity of on-field work was a disappointment in 2012 and we desperately need a bounce-back season. 2. What can Zach Brown do for an encore? The much-maligned rookie selection had a fantastic season and proved to be a real difference maker for a defense short on star power. Brown made big plays in all three phases of the game and showed more toughness than he was ever credited with. As McCarthy showed this season, the challenge is for Brown to take his game to another level next season. 3. Where are the back-ups? Right now, not on our roster! Shaw and Bailey are getting too expensive to keep, and at least one of them is a certainty to be replaced by a younger, cheaper special teams player. A combination of draft and free agency is needed to provide us with much needed insurance, as I don’t expect Witherspoon or McRath will get another look. Free Agency: Unless the team has given up on McCarthy, we are shopping for depth. With our other holes, I think that is the right strategy. Leroy Hill Rocky McIntosh Tavares Gooden Larry Grant Antwan Barnes Shaun Phillips Larry Foote Akeem Jordan Phillip Wheeler Bryan Thomas Scott Shanle Jasper Brinkley Erin Henderson Brandon Siler Marvin Mitchell Daryl Smith Moise Fokou Bradie James Tim Dobbins Keyaron Fox Brad Jones Erik Walden DeAndre Levy Justin Durant Vistor Butler Keith Brooking Scott Fujita Ray Maualuga Thomas Howard Geno Hayes Brian Urlacher Bryan Scott Dannell Ellerbe Mike Peterson Paris Lenon Keith Rivers Possible Cap Casualties: Stewart Bradley Jon Beason Chris Gocong DJ Williams Desmond Bishop Jonathan Vilma Michael Boley Bart Scott Rolando McClain Potential Draft Targets: I honestly can’t see us taking a Linebacker high. I know there are some in the T’eo Camp, but I’m certainly not. I think using the #10 pick on a player that is questionable as an upgrade is a real waste. Mid-late rounds are where we shop in this draft, in my view. Jamie Collins, Southern Miss Jelani Jenkins, Florida Travis Long, Washington State Sio Moore, Connecticut Devonte Holloman, South Carolina Kevin Reddick, North Carolina Summary We have 3 young starters that were drafted in the last 2 years, and if healthy could be the strongest area on the roster. To say that we should be building our defense around these guys is a massive understatement. Chicago built a monster defense on the back of Urlacher and Briggs and made everyone around them better. We have that sort of opportunity. The biggest opportunity to maximise the talents of these guys is to keep them clean, by improving our D-Line. We obviously need to address depth as well, but our starters are set. My take Of our existing players whose contracts are expiring, I think Diles is the clear priority. The staff were high on him this season and he is a versatile back-up that can play all 3 positions in a pinch (Best suited to MLB or WLB). Presuming they re-sign Diles, I think we chase a free agent backup OLB like Akeem Jordan, Marvin Mitchell or Bryan Scott. I also think we draft at least one LB who has special teams experience to take Bailey’s roster spot. In an ideal world, a rookie would also step in and take Shaw’s spot.