Jason La Canfora from NFL.com reported that the Chicago Bears are getting ready to make a run at two major free agents the Patriots also likely have their eyes on: Julius Peppers and Aaron Kampman. While the Bears have gotten a reputation for being “frugal” with the money they spend, like the Patriots, they are trying to make a run at grabbing a playmaker to man the defensive end position. The Pats are also looking for a pass rushing specialist, likely trying to convert a DE to outside linebacker. For over a year now, the Patriots have been linked to Peppers. Some analysts have speculated that due to the labor unrest, Peppers might not be offered what he’s looking for and his price may come down to a more team-friendly figure. However, if the Bears are going to make a serious run at him, or Kampman, that will change things.
The most obvious way that this affects the Pats is if the Bears sign one of these two players. However, just the fact that they are in the running also affects the Patriots. Teams bidding on the services of these players drives up the cost to sign them, and a bidding war does not favor the Patriots. Aside from driving up the cost of Peppers and Kampman, it also raises the market value of other pass rushing defensive ends, again adversely affecting the Patriots. The lead-in to free agency, less than a week away, is already heating up. It will be interesting to see what rumors come out of the Combine as agents speak with team executives about their clients. There’s much more to the Combine than just the incoming rookies. We will likely be hearing more rumors as the Combine progresses.
Free agency is my favorite time of the offseason, and this one figures to be the most interesting free agency period in years. Stay tuned!