Yesterday our very own Sam Householder speculated on a few Chicago Bears' veterans that could end up as surprise cuts. He specifically hit on the linebacker position, because that seems to be the most jumbled with so many guys learning new positions.
There are 4-3 outside linebackers converting to 3-4 inside linebackers, 4-3 defensive ends converting to 3-4 outside linebackers and a 4-3 Mike backer learning to play inside in tandem with a Jack inside linebacker. There are only two veterans at the position that have ever played in a 3-4, Sam Acho and Pernell McPhee. Everyone else has a learning curve and they need as many reps as possible to make the switch.
There's also one player that hasn't been able to get on the field much this offseason, last season's sack leader, Willie Young.
Last year Young racked up a career high 10 sacks, in 15 games, with 8 starts. He was lost with an Achilles injury in the week 16 game and even though he's been cleared to practice for training camp, he's not at full speed.
Young seems to be slipping behind the other 3-4 OLBs and just this morning on 670am WSCR, the Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs mentioned that Young is in danger of getting cut.
From a money standpoint, cutting Young could make sense. He has a base salary of $2.45 million in each of the next two seasons and he's only due a bit over $1.3 million in bonus money still.
The other two higher priced DE to OLB converts, Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston, aren't going anywhere. Houston because he has experience playing up in a 2 point stance and Allen because the Bears just gave him a $11.5 million roster bonus.
Every day of camp that goes by with Young participating less than the other outside linebackers, his chances of making the team dwindle. The Bears could always buy some time and stick Young on the short term injured reserve list, but if they like how the position group shakes out, releasing Young could make the most sense.
Of course a trade would be most beneficial for the Bears, but teams know Chicago could be looking at a square peg round hole situation with Young, and could simply wait to sign him if released,
It may seem ludicrous to cut their best pass rusher from a year ago, but the circumstance might dictate that.