Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of email questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.
Which linebacker position do you see Jon Bostic playing this season?
It appears that Jon Bostic will compete for a starting position at both middle linebacker and the strongside position this season with converted defensive end Shea McClellin, fellow second-year pro Khaseem Greene and likely a veteran, possibly D.J. Williams if the Bears re-sign him. The only certainty at the linebacker position for the Bears this year is that perennial Pro Bowler Lance Briggs will start at the weakside spot. On Thursday at the NFL Combine, it sounded like general manager Phil Emery thinks that Bostic is the heir apparent to Briggs at the "Will" position, telling reporters: "I'll just go back to [Bostic's] athleticism and speed. You want that weakside linebacker to be your cleanup hitter. He's usually on the weak side of the formation, which means offenses run to their strengths, [so] he's running to the backside filling or chasing down players and his speed and his athleticism allows him to do that. At some point that may be his spot."
I know that defensive end Julius Peppers carries a big cap number in 2014. Are the Bears going to try to renegotiate his deal or perhaps even release him?
There's been a lot of speculation from media and fans about Julius Peppers' future with the Bears, but all that is is speculation. All that really matters is what the team intends to and general manager Phil Emery is not going to discuss those plans publicly. Asked Thursday at the Combine about how much the salary cap comes into play when evaluating Peppers, Emery said: "That would be a contract question and I think I have had a very demonstrated history of not answering those questions. I will say that Julius is part of our football team. He is under contract. We're all coming off an 8-8 season. We have a lot to improve upon and that is where our heads are at." Bears coach Marc Trestman also commented on Peppers Thursday, saying: "Julius has been an important part of our locker room. His work ethic was exceptional during the whole season. His focus was good. I'm sure he'll tell you as we all did that he had very, very good moments and moments when he didn't play as well as he would have liked."
As highlighted on ChicagoBears.com, the Bears recently signed defensive end Austen Lane. Will you please explain how the signing was possible when the new league year doesn't begin until March 11?
Spanish Fork, Utah
Players who were in the final year of their contracts in 2013 do not become free agents until the beginning of the new league year March 11. However, individuals such as Austen Lane who were not with a team are considered "street free agents" and can sign with any club at any time.