The Bears 3 Biggest Ripoffs (and what should happen)--2009 Edition

Wcg_thumb_notes_mediumInspired by this article earlier tonight (The NFL's Biggest Rip-Offs), I started to think about what the Bears biggest ripoffs were, when comparing salary to effectiveness.

To be fair, I'm not going to include players like Urlacher, or Tinoisamoa, because they're injured, and I don't think they can be truly judged as ripoffs. But there are a few players who just aren't living up to what we're paying them, and they should be called out. 

Then to stimulate some discussion, what I think should happen. Let's delve in below...

The Problem Children

1. Orlando Pace--What more can really be said? After the retirement of John Tait, Jerry Angelo rolled the expensive dice on aging offensive lineman who had missed more games over the last three years than he'd played.

Orlando Pace counts for over 5.3 million in cap space this year. (He's actually slated to earn a little more, with the roster bonus and all added in) To put that into perspective, Brian Urlacher counts for about 10.1 million in cap space. Pace has the sixth-highest cap hit on the team. Put simply, he's underperforming, but that causes so many more problems. With the recent switch of C. Williams to Left Tackle, This could potentially mean that for the last 4 games of the season, the Bears could end up giving Pace over 1.3 million dollars to ride the bench. 

If Chris Williams looks the real deal this weekend against a Packers defense that is vastly superior to the Rams, it will be even more egg on the front office face. While many of us (myself included) were intrigued by the idea of Pace, I think we all realize it was not a good idea. (Especially in retrospect.) The Bears tried to fix a problem quickly with some proven talent, but the scouting left something to be desired. Shocking, I know.

2. Frank Omiyale--Omiyale makes this list because his bonus money is so crazy ridiculous. in 2009 he's going to make a 620k salary and over 3.8 million dollars in bonuses. As Dane pointed out the other day, Omiyale is great as a pulling guard, but his abilities in that area are not justifying such a hefty price tag. His pass blocking is poor, and part of the reason we got him was to be a big physical run-blocker, but beekman has, at times, outflashed him greatly (and much more cheaply.)

3. Tommie Harris--No surprise here, but Tommie is on this list again, in all our minds, if not our hearts. Since he's going to make over 9 million dollars this year, I think it's fair from us to all expect a little more from him. Gone is the Harris who commands the double team. Gone is the Harris who bum rushes the QB straight up the middle. Gone is the Harris who grabs running backs at the handoff.

Now, to be fair, Tommie has looked a little better as of late. He may still have some nagging injury issues. He may have gotten his money and decided to pack it in. That being said, his is one of the most important positions in the Bears current defense. Our past success on defense came because we had pro-bowl level talent at every level of the defense, but without him playing like he used to, we have nothing, and he can't free up any of our approximately 100 other defensive lineman to get in the backfield and make game changing plays.

That's all well and good, Kev, but what do you think should happen?

Well, it's pretty safe to say--not all three of these guys can possibly stay on the roster. I think it's pretty obvious that Orlando Pace will likely be the man to leave, hopefully through retirement (the classy way), and not through the Bears cutting him. I respect Pace a lot, as he was a stellar player at his position for a long time. However, both he and his salary are a complete liability to the Bears.

Omiyale is still, relatively speaking, a young dude. He could continue to develop his skill set a bit, and eventually could develop into a really solid, if unspectacular lineman. His contract was insanely front-loaded, so the rest of his deal shouldn't hurt the Bears going forward.

Tommie is...well...Tommie. His contract is big enough to make it hard to find anyone really willing to trade him, and if someone values him that much, we probably should as well. We've seen what he can do, and hopefully he really is returning to form. I largely think that regaining the head of the Defense, our trash-talking middle linebacker, will help Tommie's game. While he isn't getting the explosive burst at the line, I think given the extra second that a good coverage set will provide can help Tommie regain some glory.

So what do you think? Check out the poll--which of these three do you think is the biggest ripoff, or if there's another you think is greater, you let us know why. Otherwise...get ready to knock a couple back. It could be a long Sunday afternoon...
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