The start of free agency is about six hours away and if Minnesota Vikings right tackle Phil Loadholt makes it to market, the Chicago Bears could be in play.

An NFL source told the Tribune the Bears are “hot on Loadholt,” who has started 63 of 64 career games for the Vikings at right tackle after he was drafted in the second round in 2009 from Oklahoma. The Vikings publicly have stated they want to re-sign Loadholt, a mauler on the right side who has cleared plenty of paths for MVP running back Adrian Peterson.

Loadholt, 6-foot-8, 343 pounds, fits the prototype for a right tackle and it’s unknown if the Bears would plan to use him where he has excelled or consider shifting him to the left side where he played in college. Chances are they would want him to stay put but Loadholt is represented by Gary Uberstine, the same agent Bears’ 2011 first-round draft pick Gabe Carimi employs.

The price tag for Loadholt could reach $5.75 million per season. The Vikings elected not to place the franchise tag on him because the figure for offensive linemen is $9.828 million, well above even top pay for right tackles. If nothing else, pursuing Loadholt could drive the price up for an NFC North rival.

The Bears had a chance to draft Loadholt in 2009 less than four weeks after trading for quarterback Jay Cutler. He was on the board when the Bears’ pick at No. 49 in the second round came up but general manager Jerry Angelo traded the pick to the Seattle Seahawks. The Vikings selected Loadholt 54th overall.