There is little doubt that the Bears still have a ways to go as far as building a roster that can contend for championships.
The fact that the coaching staff was able to eek out six wins from a shallow roster that was injury depleted was nothing short of a superb effort on their parts. That coaching job made the 2015 season at least tolerable to watch.
Without John Fox, Vic Fangio and Adam Gase, it could have been even worse in the wins and losses than 2014.
So it goes without saying that there will still be a lot of roster turnover this winter and spring as Fox and general manager Ryan Pace work to bring in young, dynamic talent and continue to stock the Bears' roster up.
One of the staples of Pace's first free agency period was opting to sign players to one-year deals. This, combined with a number of contracts already nearing their end, means that the roster turnover this offseason was set to be numerous.
This brings us to a FoxSports.com article written by Kevin Boilard that I stumbled across this morning. The article is titled "7 players the Chicago Bears must move on from in 2016."
Now granted I presume that this article is written more for the casual NFL fan-at-large than specifically for Bears followers because the list is pretty obvious.
Boilard lists Jermon Bushrod, Martellus Bennett, Alan Ball and Sherrick McManis as four of the players. This makes perfect sense: Bushrod lost his starting job, has a large cap number and is older, Bennett wants a new deal, played disinterested, complained and ended up on IR, Ball got decent money for one year and didn't perform, McManis was awful on defense and his special teams contributions could likely be replaced for cheaper.
That's four of the seven, the other three, I thought, were players that could go either way: Shea McClellin, Marc Mariani and Will Montgomery.
To say that the Bears "must" move on from these players I feel is a bit disingenuous. The Bears aren't in a situation where they have to get rid of these players.
McClellin hasn't panned out as a 2012 first round pick (although Boilard lists him as a 2014 pick; copy edit people!). However, as the writer points out, he did just have his most productive pro season. I have been back and forth with some commenters on here about this: you can do worse than McClellin at ILB. I have no issue bringing him back on a minimum salary deal for one or two years to provide nothing but depth and special teams play. If he has to start in the meantime, he's shown he can do that at a very average level.
The Bears should certainly try to improve that position but to say he is a player that they must move on from seems a tad harsh.
The same could be said of Mariani. The Bears now have Deonte Thompson as the top kick returner heading into 2016 and can easily find someone to replace Mariani on punt returns but that doesn't mean Mariani doesn't have value. The amount of injuries the WR corps sustained last year forced Mariani to become a regular target and he excelled, especially on third downs. While he will never be a game-changer at receiver he is a nice fifth option and he has special teams value beyond just returning.
Finally, there is Will Montgomery. The veteran center was supposed to be the anchor in the middle while Hroniss Grasu was brought along but Montgomery's early season leg injury squashed that. With an offseason of training and work, Grasu appears set to take that spot but that is far from a sure thing. Having a veteran center for nothing more than depth on a one-year deal wouldn't be a bad thing.
Last season when Montgomery went down, the offensive line was thrown into a musical chairs game of position changes. Matt Slauson went to center, Patrick Omameh went to one guard position, Vlad Duccase went to the other and eventually Grasu entered the mix. There was a lot of shuffling and a lot of players playing positions they shouldn't have been.
In theory, yes, Grasu will take up the center mantle and the Bears won't need Montgomery, but after seeing Duccase and Omameh, do you really want to risk having those caliber players on the field again? I know I don't.
Do you think these are players that the Bears must move on from?