Chicago Bears Twitter mailbag: Can Ego Ferguson emerge at DE?

Here is the first installment of the Chicago Bears twitter mailbag. Thank you for participating.

@DickersonESPN: The door is wide open for Ego Ferguson, Scott. Now that Ray McDonald is off the roster, Ferguson has a great opportunity to earn additional playing time, either at defense end or tackle, depending on how the Bears shuffle bodies around up front. I thought Ferguson played fairly well last season when he appeared in 16 games and made 27 tackles and two sacks as a rookie. Nothing would please the Bears more than to see a former high draft pick succeed, even if Ferguson is technically a Phil Emery guy. Ferguson has committed himself to being in top physical condition in the offseason, and that work ethic has not gone unnoticed by the coaching staff. Only time will tell if Ferguson can take the next step in his career, but if he falters in 2015, it won't be from a lack of effort.

@DickersonESPN: Corey, the Bears' decision to hire a new lead contract negotiator/salary-cap analyst really surprised me. Nothing against Joey Laine, but Stein is one the top contract negotiators in the entire NFL. The Bears are never in salary-cap trouble, and they routinely are the first team in the league to sign all of their draft picks. Even stranger, is that general manager Ryan Pace spoke openly about leaning on Stein for advice after he took the job. I realize Pace knows Laine from New Orleans, but the Saints have dealt with documented salary-cap issues over the years. The good news is Stein decided to remain with the Bears as general counsel, but in an offseason full of changes at Halas Hall, this one makes little sense on the surface. However, I think it's only fair to give Laine the benefit of the doubt. He may eventually prove to be just as skilled as Stein.

@DickersonESPN: I take issue, Lee, with any narrative suggesting the Bears don't have talent. They have plenty of talent. In fact, they had way too much talent on the roster last season for that team to finish 5-11. Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery, Kyle Long, Martellus Bennett (if he ever shows up), Kevin White, Eddie Royal ... these are talented guys. Now, have they closed the gap with Green Bay? Probably not. Aaron Rodgers is out of this world. Until he leaves the division, the Packers will always be the team to beat in the NFC North, in my opinion. So yes, Lee, I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. I don't think the Bears have a great shot to reach the playoffs because the defense is still very much a work in progress; but I also believe the Bears' record should improve by a couple of games. I'm sticking with 7-9. Maybe 8-8.