CHICAGO (AP) -As offseasons go, this has been a wild one for the Chicago Bears. In the nearly three-month period since they lost the Super Bowl to the Colts, the ride has been bumpy and tumultuous.
- Defensive coordinator Ron Rivera's contract wasn't renewed after he'd interviewed for numerous head coaching vacancies.
- Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs threatened to sit out the season after the team put a franchise tag on him.
- Thomas Jones, the leading rusher the last two seasons, was traded to the Jets.
- Troubled defensive tackle Tank Johnson was sent to jail for a probation violation.
- Star linebacker Brian Urlacher was fined $100,000 for wearing a cap at Super Bowl media day that promoted a sports drink other than the one the league officially endorses.
- Coach Lovie Smith and GM Jerry Angelo got contract extensions, shortly after Smith's agent said talks were stalemated and the coach would probably leave after the 2007 season.
And now comes the NFL draft this weekend, when speculation they will trade the disgruntled Briggs is bound to heat up. One potential deal with the Redskins failed to develop.
The Bears have the No. 31 pick of the first round and the fifth pick - No. 37 overall - in the second round, a choice from the Jets in the Jones deal. Chicago has seven picks.
``Lance is looking at it from a business side of it, as is his agent. I am understanding of what they are saying and the things he is going through. Ultimately, he is a football player and right now he is a Chicago Bear,'' Angelo said this week.
Angelo pointed to two positions that need shoring up with backups if the Bears end up picking where they are slotted beginning Saturday. The trade of Jones handed the ball to Cedric Benson, the team's first-round pick in 2005, as the starter at running back.
``Right now we're light at running back, we're light at tight end in terms of our numbers. So obviously we'd want to do something if we can on draft day and or post draft. But we certainly have to do something there,'' Angelo said.
The Bears already took steps to strengthen two other areas with veterans. Chicago signed defensive tackle Anthony Adams and traded with Washington for safety Adam Archuleta. With defensive tackle Tommie Harris and safety Mike Brown both recovering from major injuries, those were two positions the Bears wanted depth. There is also the possibility that once Johnson gets out of jail he could face a suspension from the league.
Angelo did well in the draft last season, finding immediate impact players. He took kick return sensation Devin Hester out of Miami in the second round and nabbed defensive end Mark Anderson from Alabama in the fifth. Hester returned an NFL-record six kicks for touchdowns - and then took back the opening kickoff of the Super Bowl for another - and made the Pro Bowl, while Anderson became one of the team's top pass rushers and finished with 12 sacks.
``The draft is not an exact science at all. You don't have to go far back, just look at last year's class. Mark Anderson, what round did he go in? Fifth round,'' Smith said.
``Everyone said you can't get any good players there. There's value throughout the rounds. We like the top part of the draft, we like the lower part of the draft, too. We like the middle part of the draft. There are good football players throughout.''
Zach Miller, a tight end out of Arizona State, or running back Brian Leonard of Rutgers could be on the Bears' board Saturday.
Asked if he needed to find players who could not only get the Bears back to the Super Bowl but get them a victory, Angelo said not really.
``We have a window, but I am not naive enough or egotistical enough or gullible enough to think that I am going to find three or four players at the bottom of each round that are going to be the elixir to turn this team and get us over the top,'' Angelo said.
``That's not being sound. We're going to look at these players as developmental players that can come in here and help us win. That's our thing. Can we win with these players? That's the barometer.''

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