The Chicago Bears announced roster moves Thursday afternoon headlined by the official release of veteran wide receiver Eddie Royal.
Of course, the move doesn’t come as a surprise considering the talented but oft-injured wideout in Royal appeared in just 18 of 32 games in his two seasons with the Bears and only caught 70 passes overall. The 30-year-old signed a three-year $15 million dollar deal back in 2015 and was due $5 million this year.
EDIT: The NFL transaction wire had Royal’s release listed as a non football injury.
Considering the Bears retain no dead cap space in releasing Royal and the additions of Markus Wheaton and Kendall Wright in free agency, this move was expected for awhile.
On other fronts, Chicago also waived 2014 third-round pick Will Sutton, a selection of former general manager Phil Emery, and interior lineman, Cornelius Edison, and fullback, Paul Lasike.
Sutton was a player caught in a transitional phase under Ryan Pace’s new regime. He was already undersized for a 4-3 defense and when the Bears brought in defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and his 3-4 scheme, the fit became even murkier. When you factor in additions such as John Jenkins and Jaye Howard in the 2017 offseason, the Bears didn’t leave much room to retain him. He had just 38 tackles and one tackle for loss in the last two seasons.
What waiving the 25-year-old Sutton also does is add to Emery’s less than stellar drafting history. In three years from 2012-2014, the former personnel executive made 20 draft selections for the Bears. Only five of those players remain on the current roster in Kyle Long, Pat O’Donnell, Charles Leno Jr., Ka’Deem Carey, and Kyle Fuller. And outside of Long and maybe O’Donnell, the other three don’t seem to have the safest future at Halas Hall either. Another microcosm of recent Bears’ team-building failure.
As for Edison and Lasike, both were additions to the late Bears’ roster in 2015 with Edison signing as undrafted free agent and Lasike coming on to the practice squad after being waived by the Arizona Cardinals in the late summer.
The 23-year-old Edison saw time on Chicago’s active roster last year but it was going to be tough to find a place for him with Long, Josh Sitton, Cody Whitehair, Eric Kush, Hroniss Grasu, and Jordan Morgan in the fold, moving forward. Meanwhile, the 26-year-old Lasike played a position the Bears don’t really use in traditional means. Lasike had three attempts as a runner in 2016 and wasn’t used much in other packages. Modern offenses dictate a tight end can work out of the backfield for running backs and that’s also where the Bears have bolstered with additions such as Dion Sims.
Overall, none of these moves come as a real surprise and they save the Bears valuable cap space. More flexibility for the future.
The Bears are gearing up for summer position battles and competition as they welcome rookies such as Mitchell Trubisky, Adam Shaheen, and Eddie Jackson to Chicago’s development program tomorrow before mini-camp begins for everyone in a couple of weeks.
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for the Rock River Times and is a staff writer for Windy City Gridiron. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.