Free-agent spotlight: Anderson, Steltz and more

Philadelphia Eagles' Bryce Brown, right, breaks free of Chicago Bears' James Anderson, top left, and Roc Carmichael during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

For the past few weeks, we’ve shined the spotlight on the Bears’ big-name players heading toward free agency. As we head into the new league year, here’s a look at the rest of the players with contracts expiring on March 11. 

James Anderson

Position: LB
Age (As of Sept. 1, 2014): 30
2013 stats: Started all 16 games, led the Bears with 102 tackles. Also had 4 sacks, 10 tackles for loss and 4 passes defensed.

Outlook: Not only have Marc Trestman and Phil Emery never mentioned Anderson’s name when discussing the defense since the season ended, but the Bears now have a surplus of sorts at the strong-side linebacker spot with Shea McClellin, Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene. Anderson led the team in tackles and looked very good to start the season, but when injuries took Lance Briggs and D.J. Williams out, he couldn’t answer the bell. He should get a new contract in free agency and could start somewhere, but for another team.

Eben Britton

Position: OL
Age (As of Sept. 1, 2014): 26
2013 stats: Played in 13 games with 4 starts. Played in 22.2% of offensive snaps as an extra tackle, played right tackle for Jordan Mills in season finale.

Outlook: Trestman really valued using Britton as an extra O-lineman, and he held his own filling in for Mills against the Packers. Britton is young with versatility to play guard or tackle. He should be an easy option to re-sign as the top backup on the line, unless another team wants to give him a chance to start somewhere.

Landon Cohen

Position: DT
Age (As of Sept. 1, 2014): 28
2013 stats: Played in 13 games with 3 starts after signing with team on 9/27, 14 tackles, played 32.1% of defensive snaps.

Outlook: Cohen had to jump right into the defensive line rotation with injuries decimating the defensive tackle position. He made some nice plays at times but never made much of an impact for a porous run defense. He could be an option to bring back as a reserve later in free agency on a minimum deal, but he could also seek to get that elsewhere.

Blake Costanzo

Position: LB
Age (As of Sept. 1, 2014): 30
2013 stats: Played in all 16 games, had 8 tackles, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery on special teams.

Outlook: An energetic, core member of all the special-teams units, Costanzo has played on four teams in his NFL career. That could become five next season if the Bears think they can replace his contributions with a younger option. 

Patrick Mannelly

Position: LS
Age (As of Sept. 1, 2014): 39
2013 stats: Played in 14 games, franchise leader in games played, perfect on all snaps.

Outlook: It’s not just that Mannelly has played for the Bears forever and is extremely well respected by the organization, he’s also very, very good at his job. The Bears will have to see how he is after offseason hip surgery, but if he’s healthy, he should be back for his 18th (!) season. 

Sherrick McManis

Position: CB
Age (As of Sept. 1, 2014): 26
2013 stats: Played in 15 games with 1 start. Had 7 tackles on special teams.

Outlook: Another special-teams stalwart, McManis is one of the gunners in coverage and can play corner in a serious pinch. He’s young, but shouldn't expect much on the open market, so the Peoria native is certainly an option to return to his role.

Jonathan Scott

Position: OT
Age (As of Sept. 1, 2014): 31
2013 stats: Was inactive for every game in 2013. Played in 12 games with 7 starts in 2012.

Outlook: Sure, Scott has starting experience, so that could earn him a one-year, minimum deal late in free agency, but the Bears could also find extra tackle help in the draft or via another free agent.

Craig Steltz

Position: S
Age (As of Sept. 1, 2014): 28
2013 stats: Played in 16 games with 1 start. Had 24 tackles, led special teams with 9 tackles.

Outlook: A special-teams maven, Steltz had a very impressive showing when he had to start for Major Wright against the Vikings, leading the team in tackles. He’s a valued member of the special-teams unit and showed he can be a dependable option as a reserve safety, so unless teams come clamoring for him, it makes sense for Steltz to return.

Anthony Walters

Position: S
Age (As of Sept. 1, 2014): 25
2013 stats: Played in 13 games. Made five tackles on special teams.

Outlook: Walters is a restricted free agent, so the Bears get the first crack of bringing him back by tendering him a contract, if that's the route they want to go, and it wouldn't cost much. Walters is young and a special-teams contributor, but he hasn't shown an ability to be an impactful safety if the Bears needed it. 

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