The Bears have released many players in the last week. Sitton, Young, Demps, McPhee, Freeman and Glennon all received notice of their impending releases. The real question is why? No other team has released as much information about their 2018 roster, or likely plans in the draft/ free agency. Given Glennon, Demps, and Freeman had very little chance of making the 2018 roster, but the early release of Sitton, Young, and McPhee has tipped our hand for the 2018 off-season. Edge rusher is now our most pressing need and many have connected the dots believing the Bears will draft Nelson to plug in the hole at guard. Some claim that these moves were done early to reward veterans for their service or to improve morale in the locker room, but the NFL is a business. We hear it from players and management alike. I don't think the Bears were just being nice. 5-11 teams don't get to be nice. Personally, I feel like this has to be a strategy move from Mr. Pace.
Let's look back at last year....
The signing of Mike Glennon to a huge contract was clearly a smoke screen to get our QB in the draft without having to trade to #1. Without signing Glennon, everybody would have known we were going to draft a QB at #3. Cleveland would have held us over the coals until we gave up the house for #1,or simply drafted Mitch #1. With this in mind, let's take a look at possible benefits from the early release of this information.
#1 By releasing Sitton, and hiring Harry Hiestand Chicago has many people believing we will draft Nelson at #8. Maybe that is what Pace wants the teams drafting ahead of us to believe? If Denver, or another team ahead of the Bears, signs a FA QB, they may draft Nelson to protect that investment. This scenario makes the Bears more likely to trade #8 to a QB needy team to pick up more draft picks. The #8 pick will make about $15 million on their 5th year option. Do you want to pay that money to a guard or an Edge Rusher?
#2 Players like Sitton, Fuller, McPhee or Young could all get scooped up to major contracts on the first few days of Free Agency. The bigger the contracts, the more likely we are to receive compensatory picks for our losses. Some teams release higher caliber players after the big money has been spent in the first few days, while it increases your chances of resigning them, it reduces your chances at receiving compensatory picks. This strategy only works if we use most of our cap space to resign the younger core of the team. (Goldman, Amos, Callahan, Meredith, Howard) This is how the best teams operate.
#3 The Bears have already agreed to sign one or more of these players back after the draft. Imagine a scenario in which Pace wants to misdirect the NFL on our team needs. This is probably illegal in the eyes the league, but difficult to prove. It would also require massive amounts of trust from the players involved.
Hopefully, there is a strategic reason why we released all of this information so early!!! Otherwise, it would have been better to leave some speculation on the table. What do you think?