Monday we discussed the idea behind this series, and Tuesday the DBs swayed to the music. Today, it's the linebacking corps' turn to dance! Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs get an automatic bye, for obvious reasons (they don't dance around the chairs, but sit atop their thrones). But what of the rest? Follow the rhythmic melody past the jump to find out!
Hunter Hillenmeyer: H² spent 2010 on the IR list after suffering a concussion in the third preseason game against the Cardinals. He tried to fight through it and actually played in the first half of the season opener against Detroit, but left at halftime due to dizziness. Lingering effects of the concussion caused the Bears to place Hillenmeyer on injured reserve. Hunter was reportedly not sure if he would retire or not. Honestly, let's hope Hunter does what is best for himself and his family's well being. We don't know if that means playing football, then so be it. If that means retiring, then more power to him and we should thank him and wish him luck. But for the sake of this series, let's assume that Hunter returns. Hillenmeyer has been a staple in Chicago for 8 seasons, and while he's not as athletically gifted as some, he is in possession of a high level of versatility and an even higher football IQ. Hillenmeyer has started at all three LB positions and has performed well in all three. He did the best job of replacing Urlacher in '09 of any of the stop gaps applied. And for all that he lacks, he just seems to be there when the Bears need him to be. Hunter is due $1.8M this season and will likely get it. Hunter has a seat.
Rod Wilson: Rod was brought in to replace the injured Hillenmeyer. He was familiar with the system, having played his first two seasons here in Chicago, and he was mostly a special teams body this year, as he was in the past. The Bears can find plenty of those in this years undrafted FA class, and maybe find a diamond in the rough, rather than sticking with a known quantity that will not ever going to contribute to the defense. Sorry, Rod. But if Tim Shaw's special teams ability wasn't enough to keep him here because he wasn't a fit in the defensive scheme, then how can you be expected to last past camp? Rod has no seat.
Brian Iwuh: Speaking of Tim Shaw, Iwuh was the special teams ace brought in to replace Shaw. Iwuh was supposed to be a better fit for the defense, and that turned out to be a very good call. Iwuh wasn't setting any franchise records, but he filled in admirably for an injured Lance Briggs against the Seahwks, leading the team with 8 tackles and 2 assists. He also forced a fumble from Donovan McNabb the following week while spelling Briggs. Iwuh was a pleasant surprise, and given that he is paid on the light side for LBs ($1.16M in 2010) it might be wise for the Bears to snatch up this FA quickly. Iwuh has a seat.
Nick Roach: Another player scheduled to reach free agency (if there is a free agency) this year is Nick Roach, and the Bears should not allow it to get that far. Chicago traded away Jamar Williams in order to get their hands back on Chris Harris, who they never should have traded away in the first place. This leaves Nick Roach as the only up and coming linebacker left on the roster with starting experience and potential. Roach's salary last season was $1.684M, and that is pretty reasonable for a backup of his caliber. He will probably need a pay increase to stay (though he may be restricted, depending on how the new CBA works out) but it should be one of the higher priorities on the front office "To Do" list when it comes time to reward their own. Nick has a seat.
Pisa Tinoisamoa: $3.5M < $3.145M. This is the equation that sums up Pisa. But what does it mean? Pisa took home $3.5M of the Bears cash last season for 12 games, some of which were not complete games. In those 12 games, Pisa recorded 31 tackles, 7 assists, 1 forced fumble and 1 sack. So where does the $3.145M come into play? That was Lance Briggs reported salary for the same time period. Seems like the Bears got a ton more for their $3.145M they gave to Lance, doesn't it? 75 tackles, 13 assists, 2 INTs, 2 sacks, 7 passes defended, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery. Let's be honest here. The stats don't tell everything. But if you watched the games, and I know you did, Pisa was not impressive enough to make more than Briggs. I'm not sure he was more impressive than Roach was the year before. Or than Hillenmeyer was when the starting job was his in '06 and '07. So why is he making this kind of money? He has a bum knee, and has missed more games than he has played since joining Chicago. He has been a huge disappointment, and Pisa needs to go. Pisa has no seat.
So there you have it! Two more individuals without chairs: Pisa Tinoisamoa and Rod Wilson. Come on back again tomorrow as we delve into Jerry's Kids (AKA the defensive line) and try to determine who the Bears should pull the seat out from under. Hope to see you there.