Let me start off by saying I absolutely think AP has not only been a valued member of the Bears organization, but has also been a class act of the first order. I don't remember hearing a single story about any kind of hold outs, any comments about being mainly a special teams player, any grumbling about an increased workload when a starter got injured, or a single police blotter involving him. He's exactly what you want out of a player as far as being the quintessential high character guy.
Here is where the flowery speech comes to a grinding halt, and we face a hard reality if AP is a player you respect.
He's getting old, and even older when you factor in his being a RB and ST player both positions which have a deserved reputation for being hard on the body. AP was an almost strictly special teams player last year, as was Garrett Wolfe. As mentioned during a few games last year, as well as by the coaches Wolfe has definitely found a way to get more playing time by excelling on special teams last year. At the same time you heard more about Wolfe coming into his own (on ST at least) you heard less about AP being the same kind of force.
Now, it's very easy to say as I have said, that special teams plays can be hard to break down. The stats for them are very hit or miss as far as quality, and the impact of certain players can be hard to quantify. There are very few stat lines of crucial blocks, and needed gap filling to slow down an opposing player. However, just in casual viewing I'd have to say that I was surprised at his apparent slowdown, specially since he was being used MUCH less on offense. This brings me to my second point.
This isn't 2007, and Cedric Benson is no longer a part of this team. I hate to rehash the bad days of Benson, but even when AP was being used almost as much as Benson their averages were very similar. It's very true that AP was producing more in line with his compensation, but it still wasn't great production when he was getting a fair share of carries. The other reason to compare 2007 to now is that one of the reasons AP would see the field was because Benson would have trouble catching the flu from a sick teammate that was hitting him too hard. We're very lucky to now have a RB that has very good hands for a RB, he also blocks much better than Benson does also removing the need to have AP on the field. These are both reasons, other than a possible downturn, that kept him off the field.
Now with all the talk about his good and his bad, here comes the ugly.
AP is 29 years old and on the downside of his career, he's not going to be getting any better. AP's is in the last year of his contract this year. AP's primary position is one that we carry three other players on the roster already. No matter how you look at it AP is likely not going to be a good value any year after this one, if you even think he has value this year. If you believe that we need to carry four running backs, it's quite easy to pick up a decent one with upside in the later rounds that will do fine on ST and will have more upside for less money.
Football is a game of honor and respect, but like it or not it has also become a business. It just doesn't make business sense to keep AP on our team after this year, and maybe not even this one.
What do you think?