LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- As the Bears prepare to miss the playoffs for the fifth straight year, here is a quick look at a few notable ex-Bears still alive in the Super Bowl chase.
Already punched their tickets
Julius Peppers, Green Bay Packers: The ageless wonder. Peppers is still a force with 9.5 sacks and two forced fumbles from his rush-linebacker positon. The Packers rarely splurge on free agents, but they hit a home run signing Peppers after the Bears dumped him after 2013 because of salary-cap reasons.
Charles Tillman, Carolina Panthers: Tillman stayed relatively healthy for Carolina, registering 52 tackles, two forced fumbles and two interceptions in 11 games. One of the greatest defensive backs in Bears history, it would be nice to see Tillman finish his career with a Super Bowl ring.
Jared Allen, Carolina Panthers: Allen recently called his situation in Charlotte “a little slice of heaven.” Allen is thrilled to playing defensive end in a 4-3 defense, but he’s contributed just two sacks in 11 games. His future in Carolina is unclear beyond the playoffs.
Jon Bostic, New England Patriots: The Bears' 2012 second-round draft pick, Bostic is strictly a special-teamer for the Patriots. He played 17 special-teams snaps last week in New England’s overtime loss to the New York Jets.
Mason Foster, Washington Redskins: The Bears cut Foster in the preseason. He resurfaced in Washington where he’s started the last four games. Foster had seven tackles in the Redskins’ recent win over Philadelphia.
Stephan Paea, Washington Redskins: Washington placed Paea on injured reserve with a Grade 2 toe sprain on Dec. 11. Paea signed a four-year, $21 million contract with a $5 million signing bonus in offseason but ended up being just a rotational player on the Redskins’ defensive line.
Drew Butler, P, Arizona Cardinals: The son of legendary Bears kicker Kevin Butler, Drew spent part of an offseason in Chicago until the club drafted punter Pat O’Donnell. Butler has now punted for two seasons in Arizona after spending 2012 with the Steelers.
Knocking on the playoff door
Brandon Marshall, New York Jets: Marshall is the toast of the town in New York with 101 receptions for 1,376 yards and 13 touchdowns. This would be Marshall’s first taste of the postseason if the Jets get in. Year 1 with Marshall is usually great. He caught 118 passes for 1,508 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Bears in 2012. It began to unravel after that.
Matt Spaeth, Pittsburgh Steelers: Spaeth is still a valuable blocking tight end; a perfect fit for the Steelers' style of offense. Spaeth won a Super Bowl ring in Pittsburgh before he arrived in Chicago. The Bears let him go because Spaeth refused to take a pay cut.