Through the two weeks of free agency there has been a lot of change for the Bears as they have signed several players, while letting other veterans and fan favorites walk out without so much as a contract offer.
This has been criticized by some players and even called ruthless by fans on this very blog, but at the end of the day it is just the nature of the business. The first offseason after a new regime is brought in it should be expected that there would be some turnover, especially on a team that had so many expiring contracts and aging players.
While the Bears have signed some younger players and even brought back a familiar face or two, it's still somewhat debatable as to whether the team has actually improved or not.
As a review, let's run down whom the Bears have lost and where they signed:
The Bears have also released a couple of other veterans who have yet to find teams in Earl Bennett and Michael Bush. While that is just a partial list, it covers players who played major roles last year and are most likely to have made an impact this year had they stayed on the team.
Which player do you think the Bears have made a mistake in letting go? Which player would have added depth and been productive?
Which player do you, as a fan, wish could have stayed?
With the defensive line issues last season it might be easy to pick a Melton or a Wootton. Melton's season was cut short by a devastating knee injury and he was coming off a Pro-Bowl year. Maybe his price was too steep for the Bears but his depth and potential would have been a welcome addition.
Wootton played out of position last year and has worked his way into fans' hearts with his tough play, team-first attitude and by having played college locally at Northwestern.
Or is it a player like Hester, Bennett or McCown?
Hester has aged and is a player without an every down position, but he was an electric player and has been a fan favorite over his time in Chicago.
Bennett was never a superstar but, for much of his time here, was the most reliable target on a starved receiving corps. He mainly made his name on third downs and by catching nearly everything thrown his way, but he never had the athleticism or the speed to be really elite and once Alshon Jeffery emerged alongside Brandon Marshall, he (and his contract) were expendable.
McCown stepped in for an injured Jay Cutler and played the best football of his career and, while it is unlikely that the Bears could have paid what he ultimately got from Tampa, his departure leaves a huge hole to fill in the back up QB spot. Cutler has been unfortunately injury-prone in recent years and without a known, capable back up like McCown, the position could become a problem.
So which player will the team regret letting go for his play on the field? And which player, as a fan, thinking with your heart, will you miss and wish that the team would have found a way to afford to keep so that they could end their career in Chicago?