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Chicago Bears Musical Chairs - Defensive Backs Edition

Yesterday we touched on the thoughts, comments and ideas that spawned this series.  Today let’s jump right in with both feet and discuss which Chicago Bears defensive backs should or shouldn't have a seat when the music stops.

Now, we won’t hit on the obvious selections to stay.  Chris Harris isn't going anywhere.  Neither is Major Wright, Tim Jennings, DJ Moore, or Charles Tillman (some might argue that Peanut’s price tag is too steep for a guy who falls down so much, but to be fair, the slippery-soled one lead the team in passes defended (14), INTs (5), INT yards (127) forced fumbles (4) fumble recoveries (3)and was third in tackles (72) so Peanut probably goes nowhere).  So we won’t even touch on any of these players.  We’ll just stick with the backs that are most likely in jeopardy.

Josh Bullocks: Safety.  Josh made quite a sum of money for a player whose entire stat line in the past two seasons with the Bears is 17 tackles and 7 assists.  He has recorded no interceptions, passes defended or any other notable statistic.  Yet he laughed to the bank with his $1.226M check, earned with 3 tackles and 3 assists in 2010.  Bullock even making the roster was a questionable move last season.  I cannot see the Bears making the same mistake twice.  Bullocks has no seat.

Craig Steltz: Safety.  Oh, what can be said about Craig Steltz?  Decent sized, if a bit slow of foot, but has a reputation as being smart enough to overcome his physical limitations.  Steltz has his uses.  He’s a project safety with a small price tag ($555K) and a willingness to play special teams.  He hasn’t contributed much since he was drafted, but the Bears have always been optimistic about Craig, and his small salary and reportedly high football IQ  should keep him on the roster.  Steltz has a seat.

Danieal Manning: Safety.  Manning wouldn’t be on this list but for the fact that he is a free agent heading into this offseason.  Manning quietly had a very good year.  He recorded 59 solo tackles (4th) and an interception.  He also equaled Tim Jennings and Chris Harris in passes defended with 7.  Only Tillman and Moore had more in the secondary.  The Bears would be wise to resign him.  Unfortunately, Manning could very well end up with better options elsewhere.  Major Wright is the heir apparent to the FS spot, and Chris Harris would then shift back to his natural SS position.  That would leave Manning out, and it is a pretty good bet that he could end up with a better chance to start elsewhere.  While I’d like to see the Bears re-sign Manning, and while Brad Biggs thinks the Bears will want Danieal, he may see greener grass on the other side of the fence.  Manning has a seat, but does he want it?

Corey Graham: Cornerback.  Graham is another interesting question mark.  Looking promising as a corner early in his career, Graham virtually disappeared from the defense after failing to make the conversion to safety and then losing the battle for the nickelback spot to DJ Moore.  He has been a fantastic ST player this year, and still has potential as a corner.  Kev H did a nice write-up on Corey here.  But if another team offers more for Corey than what is reasonable for a backup corner and ST contributor, then the Bears should let him walk.  Graham should have a seat if the price is right, but unfortunately it won’t be and Corey may be looking for a fresh start if the opportunity presents itself.  So Graham has no seat.

Zackary Bowman: Cornerback.  Zack started out on fire and burned up quickly.  He’s a bit injury prone and streaky at best but has a $1.2M price tag, which isn’t outrageous at all considering he is a decent backup with starting experience.  This one doesn’t require much thought. While he is not starting quality, Bowman has a seat.

Joshua Moore: Cornerback.  We don’t know much about Josh Moore and he recorded no statistics in his rookie year.  But the Bears generally keep draft picks around more than one year and Moore has some potential.  Add in his $405K price tag for 2011, and it looks like Moore will be a Bear next year.  Joshua Moore has a seat.

In the end there could be three possible casualties this offseason in our secondary.  Corey Graham will likely require more money to keep than he is worth in Chicago and Danieal Manning may seek an opportunity to start elsewhere if Major Wright looks like he will take over the FS spot.  But there is really only one player who doesn’t belong at all:  Josh Bullocks.  Sorry Josh, but no chair for you!

Come visit again tomorrow as we delve into the linebacking corp.