Considering the Bears are currently maxed out on their 90-man roster, they’d have to let someone go if they do make a move. This subtraction could be for salary cap purposes or to ensure some more reps for a younger player, but at some point they’ll do something.
Which leads us to today’s round table question; Who is the one (non-Adam Shaheen) player the Bears will/should release next?
We took the former second-round draft pick out of the equation for this question, because he and his $1.8 million cap hit and his 26 catches in three years would be an easy target for our staff. With free agents Jimmy Graham and Demetrius Harris, and top draft pick Cole Kmet all around now, Shaheen would have been too obvious of an answer on this one.
Here’s what we all had to say...
Truth be told, I’m rather indifferent with cutting any of the current players on the Bears’ roster, just as long as they don’t release any projected contributors. I mean, cutting Ben Braunecker from a crowded tight end room would save them roughly $1.5 million if released after June 1, but that’s not a major concern right now.
After Shaheen there aren’t many who necessarily need to go, but if forced I’d say Tyler Bray. He’s a known quantity that doesn’t really add anything to Chicago’s offense. I’d much rather have either a truly developmental rookie signal caller in that spot or a younger veteran who is released at the cut-down deadline.
I don’t see a lot of obvious candidates here. Braunecker has special teams value. Maybe cornerback Artie Burns?
There aren’t too many other players currently on the 90-man roster that make you scratch your head other than Shaheen. Because of a lack of options, I’ll say Artie Burns. With the addition of rookie Jaylon Johnson, I don’t see any reason how Burns makes the roster.
The Bears might carry 7 cornerbacks, but they probably won’t carry more than six. If you figure Kyle Fuller, Buster Skrine, Johnson and Kindle Vildor are locks. You have to figure Kevin Toliver II is as well. Even if Sherrick McManis and Stephen Denmark are more so looking to make the roster as safeties, that still leaves Tre Roberson and Duke Shelley in the mix for the 6th or 7th CB spot. There’s just no where for Burns to fit on this roster after the draft.
Ryan Nall. If he had “it” we would know it by now.
Is there anyone else aside from Shaheen that even fits the bill or makes sense for them to release? That math doesn’t add up. I suppose you could make a case for certain former No. 2 overall pick, since they didn’t pick up his fifth-year option. But I know what that inevitably turns into. First he has to be given a chance to lose his starting job to Nick Foles, then you discuss the future.
I’ll stay in the tight end group and say Ben Braunecker. Right now, the Bears have nine names at the position. At maximum, only five of them make it. Jimmy Graham, Cole Kmet and Demetrius Harris are all but locked in this year. Shaheen is likely gone, but are you going to take someone like Braunecker over the likes of J.P. Holtz (who can play fullback) and someone that showed upside like Jesper Horsted? I’d cut bait with both veteran tight ends. Save the money — almost $2.7 million combined on the two if they are June 1st cuts — and let the younger players with more upside battle it out in camp and the preseason.
Erik Christopher Duerrwaechter
Any and all tight ends not named Jimmy Graham, Cole Kmet, J. P. Holtz, or Demetrius Harris.
There, did I do that right?
Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.
Like a few of my colleagues, I also don’t see an obvious cut candidate on the offseason roster, but with the Bears adding Taushaun Gipson and Jordan Lucas at safety, I think it may make sense for the team to part ways with Kentrell Brice. The Bears added Brice on a reserve/futures deal after their 2019 season, but I think it would make more sense to bring in another UDFA safety rather than rely on a guy that was cut from his XFL team before they opened the season.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know which free agent you’d like to see the Bears pickup...