In this ongoing series, we'll take a position by position look at the Chicago Bears roster with an eye towards 2013. We'll speculate on who stays, who goes, and some potential additions we'd like to see. Also thanks to our friends at Pro Football Focus, we'll bring you their unique insight on the Chicago Bears.
This is the final installment of our Roster Turnover series, if you missed any of the 13 parts you can click here to access the full storystream.
Charles Tillman - Signed through 2013 - Tillman came through with another Pro Bowl performance in 2012, and there was a time there when he was actually being mentioned as a possible NFL defensive MVP. At this point in his career he's really accumulating Hall Of Fame type numbers. His 9 defensive touchdowns are the most in the long and storied history of the Chicago Bears. His 33 interceptions are within shouting distance of Gary Fencik's franchise best 38, and he passed Hall Of Famer Richard Dent to become the Bears leader in forced fumbles with 37 (link).
Pro Football Focus had Tillman's '12 season graded as the 4th best among corners last year. His +22.8 was a career best for Peanut, and it was the highest of any Bear that doesn't make a living kicking. There's really nothing negative to say about Tillman.
Even though he just turned 32 years old, he does seem to be improving with age, and a contract extension may make a lot of sense. His base salary for 2013 is nearly $8 million, so the Bears could offer a 2 year extension, add in some guaranteed money, and bring down his cap hit for this year.
Tim Jennings - Signed through 2013 - Jennings is an awesome example of a player that identified a weakness in his game, worked hard on it during the off season, and was able to see dividends on all his hard work. Jennings, who will turn 30 on Christmas Eve, is another candidate for a contract extension this year. He's due $4.25 million for a base salary this season, and he's been fairly durable for his career. Since 2008 he's only missed three games.
He was the #9 corner according to the PFF graders, with a +12.4. Among corners that played at least half of their teams snaps, Jennings had the 3rd lowest QB rating against (53.3) when QBs threw in his direction.
D.J. Moore - Free agent - Moore kind of fell out of favor with Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli, and if he were under contract I'd say a fresh start was in the cards, but with his contract up he may be allowed to leave. He did grade out with a +3.1 while playing nickle, so I suppose the new regime could watch the film and decide he's worth another deal. My gut says we've seen the last of D.J. Moore in a Bears uniform.
Kelvin Hayden - Free agent - Hayden brought some value with his ability to play both corner and nickle, and like Moore, he may be allowed to leave as a free agent. Of the two, I think Hayden has a better shot at returning, even though PFF had him with a -2.9 on the year.
Zackary Bowman - Free Agent - Bowman was brought in during the '12 season too add to the DB and special teams depth, but I think the Bears will look to a younger player to fill his roster spot. PFF did grade him with a +1.7 in very limited defensive snaps, so you never know.
Sherrick McManis - Signed through 2013 - McManis didn't play any defensive snaps according to PFF, but he did grade out with a +1.5 as a special teamer. Since he's the only back up corner on the roster that was active last year, he may have a shot to find a place on defense.
Isaiah Frey - Signed through 2014 - Frey has good size for a corner at 6', 190, and his pro day numbers showed strength and quickness. Hopefully his year on the practice squad did him well, and he can improve enough to make the final 53 man roster in 2013.
LeQuan Lewis - Signed through 2014 - Lewis was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2011 by the Tennessee Titans, and the Bears are his 6th team. He's was signed to add some competition to camp, and with a new coaching staff in place he may have something that they are looking for.
2013 OUTLOOK - I think the Bears need to add a good corner to the roster, either via a veteran free agent, or by hitting with a draft pick. As the roster stands now, they really have no insurance behind the two starters. They could decide to bring back one of their own players, but I doubt all three will return. The free agent corner market is pretty good this off season, so that could bode well for the Bears in finding a quality guy.
I wonder if the Bears would take a shot and draft Tyrann Mathieu? He has some red flags, but he's been described as a turnover machine.