The to-do list for the Chicago Bears to help quarterback Jay Cutler is just about completed after two big free-agent signings Tuesday.
Big-time wide receiver? The Bears got that last year in Brandon Marshall. New coach with an offensive background? Yep, and Cutler will be working in his fourth offense in five seasons.
Playmaking tight end with the ability to occupy the middle third of the field and be an asset in the running game? Martellus Bennett agreed to terms on a 4-year contract at the outset of free agency Tuesday.
Anchor for the blind side of the offensive line? Indeed.
The Bears have reached agreement with Jermon Bushrod, a two-time Pro Bowl performer for the New Orleans Saints, on a 5-year contract. That means J’Marcus Webb will be in a reserve role or possibly in the competition at right tackle.
Bushrod’s signing capped an active first three hours of free agency for Bears general manager Phil Emery. The Bears were actively pursuing Minnesota Vikings right tackle Phil Loadholt before he re-signed with his club just before the opening of free agency.
Bushrod will reunite with offensive coordinator/line coach Aaron Kromer, who helped develop him in New Orleans.
Bushrod, 28, made 62 starts over the previous four seasons for the Saints and was easily the top target for New Orleans, which has let quality offensive linemen like Carl Nicks, Jeff Faine and Jonathan Goodwin depart in the past.
Now, the Bears can look to further solidify the offensive line in the draft or turn the focus to the defense.
They’ve added protection for Cutler and have a bona fide playmaker in Bennett, who is coming off a career season with the New York Giants (55 receptions for 626 yards and five touchdowns).
The 26-year-old is an upgrade over Kellen Davis. The Bears may consider parting ways with Davis or Matt Spaeth.
“We need a tight end that can threaten the defense,” new tight ends coach Andy Bischoff said last month. “We need a tight end that can create stress in the middle of the field, or wherever we place him, because we’re going to line him up next to the tackle and we’re going to line him up outside the numbers and we’re going to line him up in the backfield and we’re going to expect the defense to figure it out.”
2012 stats: 55 receptions, 626 yards, 5 TDs
FYI: 2-time Pro Bowler, 62 stars with Saints over 4 seasons