The Bears bolstered the safety position a little bit. They have made a very interesting move by picking up former Patriot Safety Brandon Meriweather. Meriweather has been selected to the last two Pro Bowls while playing for the New England Patriots. Meriweather was signed to a one-year contract on Sunday.
Safety has been a revolving door during the Lovie Smith era and many thought it was over last season. Chris Harris and Danieal Manning started all 16 games. With Manning now in Houston, the Bears planned to replace him with Major Wright. Despite being a great tackler it seems Major Wright is struggling. Meriweather will likely challenge Major Wright for the starting position or the Bears will utilize a rotation between the 3 safeties.
Meriweather is from the University of Miami. A school that has pushed out some very high quality safeties such as Ed Reed and Shawn Taylor. Meriweather isn't as good in coverage as those guys but he can deliver some very punishing hits. Last season you likely recall the (illegal, for which he got fined) hit on Ravens' TE Todd Heap. Meriweather can lay some serious wood just like that Mike Brown fella many Bear fans used to love.
What's the catch? Meriweather has been a Pro-Bowl safety the last two seasons, why are the Bears getting him? If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is. As great of a pick-up as Meriweather is, he does have a downside. His reputation is that he isn't very disciplined on the field and likes to venture outside of his responsibility.
Luckily since it's a 1-year contract, it's a low-risk, high-reward type of deal for the Bears. This has been a running theme of the off-season. Other first round drafted talents include Roy Willams, Amobi Okoye, Vernon Gholsten (Cut), and Chris Spencer. Even if only one of them truly shines during the regular season, it will be worth it.
It will be interesting to see how the safety position shakes out because Chris Harris is entering his final year of his contract. If Meriweather has a great season, it is very possible the Bears wouldn't bring Chris Harris back. If Meriweather fails to exceed expectations, he could be let go.
What has Meriweather done in his time in New England? Well, he did pick off Jay Cutler when the Patriots played Chicago last season. Outside of that, in the last 3 seasons he has had 12 interceptions, four forced fumbles, 235 tackles, and 2 sacks. He has appeared in 48 games and has started 40 of them. Meriweather is a great talent what will hopefully be kept in check by Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
Should off the field concerns be an issue? Possibly.
Hopefully Meriweather will be kept in line but he did have a couple incidents. While at the University of Miami he was involved in a gun fight and actually fired at shooters after a teammate of his had been shot. He wasn't charged. He was also a major aggressor in the Miami-vs-Florida International Fight that we all saw replayed on ESPN 2,000 times. He pulled an Albert Haynesworth and stomped opponents on the ground.
If Meriweather winds up starting aside of Chris Harris, that would be great. If he is rotated in along with Major Wright, I am fine with that as well. Let's hope that Marinelli finds the best mix and sticks with it.