This is the 13th and final part to my Roster Turnover Series. If you missed any previous articles, click here for the full story stream.
Chris Conte - Signed through 2014 - Answer me a serious question... Do you think Conte regressed as a player, or do you think the horrible play in front of him led to his drop off? I was seeing mistakes in 2013 that he wasn't making in 2012.
He showed promise as a rookie in 2011. He had an up and down 2012 season, but most fans were OK with his play. I don't recall anyone screaming for his head after year two. But then last year happened. He looked lost at times, the bad angles, missed tackles and missed assignments were far more prevalent in 2013. Will better players around him lead to a better Chris Conte? Since he has one more year under contract, I think we'll find out.
According to Pro Football Focus, he went from a -2.0 grade in 2012 to a -15.8 in 2013. As the free safety (usually the last line of defense) Conte was in on far too many plays. The front seven wasn't getting it done in the run game, and Conte had 90 total tackles to go along with 16 others that he missed. In 2012, when the front seven wasn't historically bad, his tackle numbers were 68, with 10 whiffs.
Major Wright - Free agent - The same question I asked above applies to Major Wright. How did he go from being an up and coming safety to one of the worst safeties in the league? Front seven problems led to Wright setting a career high in tackles with 100 in 15 games. In fact Wright and Conte were 2 and 3 on the team in tackles for the season.
That's a lot of action for your starting safeties.
PFF had Wright with 15 missed tackles this year after missing 10 in 2012. His PFF grade went from +5.1 to -27.4. That's a hell of a drop off. I don't think Wright will return this season, but I think he'll catch on somewhere, and I think he'll eventually be a solid contributor.
Craig Steltz - Free agent - Steltz has been a solid special teamer in his six years in Chicago, and I'd have no problem if he were to return in a similar role. On special teams Steltz had a +4.0 grade and at safety he checked in at a -5.7. His lone start of the 2013 season saw him grade out at -5.8 in week 13. If you remember correctly, that was a rough game all around as Minnesota's Adrian Peterson went for 211 yards rushing. Steltz did have 12 total tackles that game, but PFF had him down for four missed.
Anthony Walters - Restricted free agent - I'd expect Walters back for the 2014 season. He'll be on a fairly cheap contract, and he's appeared in 33 games in three seasons. On special teams he graded out with +1.0 according to Pro Football Focus.
Sean Cattouse - Signed a reserve/future contract - Cattouse is a good athlete that has some corner experience from his days in college. He's 6'2" and 210 pounds, but he'll be a camp body looking to impress the coaches any way possible.
2014 OUTLOOK - I think the Bears have to draft a safety at some point because they haven't had a play maker at the position since Mike Brown. Some mocks have the Bears going safety in round one, but I think they'll go d-line in the 1st and look for a safety in rounds 2-4. It all depends on how the draft falls, obviously.
There are some young free agents out there, but cost will be a factor.
What are your thoughts on the safety position for the 2014 Chicago Bears?