UPDATE: On February 21 it was reported that the Bears would be releasing both Taylor Gabriel and Prince Amukamara. Jacob has the story here.
This is part-two of our latest roundtable series focusing on the Chicago Bears’ salary cap. If you missed part-one you can find that right here; Chicago Bears Salary Cap Roundtable: Player they should keep, and the players we discussed in that outing were Leonard Floyd, Patrick O’Donnell, and Cordarrelle Patterson.
In an effort to dissect the salary cap decisions Pace and company have to make, a few of us at Windy City Gridiron are taking place in a roundtable discussion with our picks for one player the Bears should keep, one player the Bears should cut, one player they should extend, and a player they should renegotiate.
To help us out with this roundtable series, I’ve enlisted Over The Cap’s Brad Spielberger (Follow him on Twitter @BradOTC), who has extensive knowledge of the inner-workings of an NFL salary cap, and we’ll let Brad get us started on this topic as well.
The Bears should cut...
This is a very tough one to answer, because the Bears offense is predicated on speed as we all have heard from Pace and Nagy countless times, and the loss of Taylor Gabriel would bring the team speed on offense way down. Gabriel rounded out his game really nicely and became more than just a deep threat as well. The same cannot be said for Cordarrelle Patterson, who shouldn’t be looked at as a replacement for Gabriel as the speed WR. Patterson is an elite returner and a fun gadget player for the offense to deploy, but he just can’t be counted on to line up at WR for a significant amount of snaps.
With that said, the $4.5M in savings from cutting Gabriel coupled with the drafting of Anthony Miller and Riley Ridley in consecutive years makes this move pragmatic. Not that Miller or Ridley will become the speed guy either, but that money needs to be spent elsewhere. The Bears can find speed for much cheaper, and I worry about Gabriel’s concussion issues as well.
I’m in agreement that the Bears should cut Gabriel, but truth be told, if it happens it’ll piss me off just a little bit and here’s why. There were rumors that Gabriel was on the trade block in 2019 and the Bears could have received a day three pick in exchange for him. Gabriel is a guy that was a likely cut candidate before the 2020 season because of his salary, so moving him for a pick should have been the way to go at the trade deadline. Had Ryan Pace moved him he could have added a draft pick, gave more playing time to his trio of young receivers, and if we’re to believe the rumors of discontent, get a guy out of the locker room that wasn’t happy.
The Bears have enough veteran depth to counteract losing Gabriel, plus with this receiver class being so good, I think the Bears are going to get a BPA wide out at some point in the draft because the value is too large to pass up.
Now let’s check in with some other WCG writers.
Jeff Berckes - I hate suggesting making cuts where there is no clear succession plan. I think there’s enough talent at WR that the Bears can move on from Gabriel without creating issues with the position group. Plus, I think the Bears would be wise to complete a deep dive into this draft class of wide receivers. Some excellent talent is going to fall down the board due simply to the strength of the class. Giving a veteran like Turbo the runway to find a new home in FA is the right thing to do so I expect this move to happen quickly. Honorable mention will go to cutting Adam Shaheen, which will be cathartic for Bears fans and open up room for one of the FA tight ends that will be brought in once the new year kicks off.
Jacob Infante - Gabriel brings a factor of deep speed to the Bears’ offense that no other receiver on the roster really has, but the depth they have at receiver makes him somewhat expendable, considering releasing him would save $4.5 million. Coming off of two concussions this past season, Gabriel might be a cap casualty this offseason.
Erik Duerrwaechter - Multiple concussions and a lack of impact when running routes that aren’t deep crossers or vertical seams has me concerned about his fit in Chicago. Speed is the foundation to his game, even though he hasn’t created a lot of explosive plays when given opportunities to gain yards after catch. The offense, for the most part, played better when Anthony Miller assumed Gabriel’s responsibilities as the #2 to Allen Robinson.
Ken Mitchell - I like Gabriel when he’s on the field, but he’s reached that point in his concussion history that it’s time for him to retire. He won’t but, and I have no interest watching him permanently injure himself.
Robert Schmitz - I don’t think anyone (including Eddie Jackson) was hurt more by the transition from Fangio to Pagano than Prince Amukamara. Normally a press-man corner, Prince was consistently given off-man and zone responsibilities that he struggled with throughout the year. He’s not a bad player, but considering the free agent needs the Bears have, the price of his contract, and the defensive direction Pagano wants to go, he’s an easy choice for the cutting room floor.
Sam Householder - I’ve got two, Prince Amukamara and Taylor Gabriel. Amukamara has been solid throughout his time in Chicago and by all accounts all of the writers like him because he’s always available during open locker room sessions. However, he’s entering his age 31 season and although availability hasn’t been a huge issue (just five missed games in three seasons), he isn’t a dynamic player. He has just three interceptions (all in 2018), three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. The Bears need to get younger at the position and can.
Now it’s your turn. Which player do you think the Bears should cut?