It appears as if the Chicago Bears are continuing to dip into the second tier of free agency when targeting players fit to fill holes on the defensive side of the ball:
Veteran free agent DL Vance Walker made visit to Bears recently. Broncos have some interest in him returning. ACL recovery crucial.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) March 13, 2017
The latest free agent linked to Chicago is defensive lineman Vance Walker, who missed the entire 2016 season with an ACL injury. Walker, a seventh-round draft pick in 2009 by the Atlanta Falcons, has shuffled across the league lately. After spending the first four years of his career with the Falcons, Walker has toured the AFC west playing for the Oakland Raiders (2013), Kansas City Chiefs (2014), and Denver Broncos (2015).
Prior to the ACL injury that sidelined him in August 2016, Walker was slated to be a starter at defensive end on what Pro Football Focus projected to be the best defensive front seven in football. A year ago at this time, Walker was seen as a player who could step in for a Broncos defense that was going to lose players in free agency because he was a top-rated run defender (83.3 run defense grade at PFF, third in run stop percentage in 2015) despite not having the upside of some of his other teammates along the defensive line. If healthy, he could provide improvement from what Mitch Unrein provided last year, while also continuing to add depth at a position the Bears don’t have much to fall back on.
Health should be a concern for a Bears organization considering how many games were lost to players finishing the 2016 season on injured reserve. Wherever Walker lands, he will play in his age 30 season in 2017.