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Cap casualty: Michael Bush

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While much has been made about the potential release of Julius Peppers and how the Bears could save some cap room, there has been little talk about another possible cap casualty, Michael Bush. With the running backs having worked out at the NFL Combine yesterday, it seemed like a good time to look at potential replacements

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The Bears allegedly have somewhere around $7.6 million in cap room according to OvertheCap.com. There have been several noted ways in which that the Bears could create more room, most notably by cutting ties with Julius Peppers.

Last week, Kev argued that they should cut Earl Bennett. Both of these moves would certainly save the Bears some cash, Peppers over $9 million and Bennett $2 million.

Those moves would free up some space to make other moves to improve the defense and, while the argument about cutting Bennett can be made either way, the move that should be made is cutting Michael Bush.

Bush has, unfortunately, turned out to be yet another free agent running back bust for the Bears. The Bears haven't been able to score in free agency at the RB position since Thomas Jones way back in 2004.

Since then, it's been washed-up or about-to-be-washed-up players like Kevin Jones, Marion Barber and Chester Taylor. The Michael Bush signing was supposed to be different. Bush was supposed to be the thunder to Matt Forte's lightning. He was somewhat younger (28) and he was coming off his best season, having run for 977 yards and seven touchdowns with the Riaders in 2011.

Bush's first year in Chicago worked out okay, he averaged a middling 3.6 yards-per-carry and scored five touchdowns while running for 411 yards spelling Forte. He saw just under half of Forte's carries (114 to 248). It appeared this signing had actually worked out.

But in 2013 things went downhill for Bush. His YPC dipped to 3.1, and his carries all but dried up as he saw his carries drop from less than half of Forte's to less than a quarter of them (289 to 63). Bush twice registered zero yards and once tallied negative yards (week 11 at St. Louis). He never seemed to find a role in Marc Trestman's offense, whether by design or just happenstance.

So why, then, should the Bears pay Bush his $2.8 million base salary to carry the ball less than 70 times and not be a true change-of-pace back?

They shouldn't. By cutting Bush the Bears could save about $1.8 million, which isn't a ton but - by drafting a young back in the late rounds - they could get someone with fresh legs who could spell Forte and, as Forte gets older, have a younger possible insurance policy against a possible Forte injury. They could get a player who would more closely fit what Trestman wants in a back (receiving skills, blocking ability, etc.).

In the draft the Bears could have options on the final day. Running backs have been so devalued in recent years that there is usually good value in the late rounds.

If the Bears wanted to replace Bush with another downhill, boulder-type back they could look at a player like David Fluellen from Toledo (5'11" 224 lbs with a 4.72 40) or Florida State's James Wilder Jr. (6'3" 232 lbs, 4.86). If the draft fell the right way, Boston College's Andre Williams could fall into the Bears' radar in the fourth or fifth round (5'11" 230 lbs, 4.56).

Other targets who somewhat fit the one-cut runner style that Forte possesses or could be feature backs down the road are USC's Silas Redd (5'10", 212 lbs, 4.7), USF's Storm Johnson (6'0", 209 lbs, 4.6), LSU's Jeremy Hill (6'1", 233 lbs, 4.66) and James White (5'9", 204 lbs, 4.57).

Finally, if the Bears want to try to draft the next Darren Sproles or Reggie Bush-type game-changing speedy, receiving and/or return threat, then they could target Kent State's Dri Archer (5'8", 173 lbs, 4.26), Missou's Henry Josey (5'8", 194 lbs, 4.43) or Mississippi State's Ladarius Perkins (5'7", 195 lbs, 4.46).

Should the Bears cut Bush and draft a running back? Who should they draft, what kind of back?