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Chicago Bears Musical Chairs - Who're the odd men out?

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Conversations are flying around here on the prospects for free agency and the 2011 NFL Draft.  Who should the Bears Draft in the first round?  What holes in the roster are the highest priorities to fill?  What, if any, free agents should the Bears pursue?  Should the Bears trade for (X) player?  These questions have spawned some entertaining and informative posts and debates.

But the other side of this conversation has gone untouched, for the most part.  Who should be given their walking papers?  Who is most expendable to make way for new blood?  Who will soon be the next former Chicago Bears?

The Bears cannot add without subtracting, as we all know.  To sign new draft picks or trade for players without making room on the final roster, isn't possible.  And the Bears have plenty of free agents of their own to deal with, including Caleb Hanie, Kahlil Bell, Garrett Wolfe, Devin Aromashodu, Danieal Manning, Anthony Adams, Rashied Davis, Josh Bullocks, Corey Graham, Desmond Clark and Olin Kreutz.  Add to all of this the 11 players the Bears have signed to futures contracts and the 2 players returning (possibly) from injured reserve and some familiar faces from 2010 are not going to be here in 2011.

But who?  Obviously, past performance is a great place to start.  Money will be a factor, as well, especially with the amount of cash tied up in players like Peppers, Cutler, Urlacher, Tinoisamoa, Hester, Tillman, and Briggs.  Some obvious names come to mind immediately, but what is obvious to us as fans is not always so black and white to Jerry Angelo, Lovie Smith, and the front office; especially when you consider the talent available to replace players with and the fact that Chicago will not be the only city in the hunt for these players.

The offseason is here, the 2010 season is but a memory and the Chicago Bears are your 2010 NFC North Division Champions.  But to sustain their momentum, the Bears are going to have to improve.

The Packers certainly will improve without doing anything but getting healthy.  Add to that their draft history, FA possibilities, and that the Pack figures to be very, very strong next year.  And while the Vikings are in rebuilding mode, they managed to win 6 games this year while dealing with an utter trainwreck of circumstances. And the Lions, who are on the path to full recovery from chronic win deficiency and who will provide great opposition next season.  Winning the division will be harder next year than it was this year.   If the Bears are going to repeat as division champions, they will have to continue improving, as well.

This week, we will take a look at our beloved Bears, and discuss who could be getting the axe.  We’ll take into account past performance, money issues, systematic problems, and some intangibles to try and finger who could end up as the odd men out.  Join us here tomorrow as we delve into the defensive backs.  Same Bear time, same Bear channel!