Apparently, the Chicago Bears have had enough.
After two arrests this offseason, fullback/tight end Evan Rodriguez was released from the team Monday. The Bears signed veteran fullback Tony Fiametta as his replacement.
This is an interesting move for the Bears, who will be creating an offense around players of Rodriguez’s size and speed. Character issues aside, Rodriguez was slotted for a much larger role in the Bears’ offense this season, which will be evolving into a more speed- and passing-based attack. Rodriguez would have been an ideal player out of the backfield or as a tight end in the revamped offense, as his speed and quickness at the NFL Combine placed him in the upper echelon of receiving tight ends and fullbacks and could have been utilized in a variety of offensive roles. At Temple, he was known as a reliable receiver and a go-to playmaker. He could have fulfilled the same role with the Bears. However, as the Bears move out of the Lovie Smith era and into the Marc Trestman epoch, it has become clear that distractions will not be tolerated, and in the case of Rodriguez, multiple distractions will land you off of the team.
Rodriguez’s replacement, Tony Fiametta, a former Dallas Cowboy, will serve the team in a similar role. Fiametta has comparable speed, which makes him extremely attractive to the Bears. He is a bit undersized in terms of height, but his above-average blocking skills and reputation as a solid lead blocker are a necessity for the Bears to open holes for Matt Forte. It is somewhat worrisome that Fiametta sat out the 2012 season with the New England Patriots as a result of lingering issues from a concussion sustained in 2011 with the Cowboys, but his speed, strength and skill set undoubtedly outweigh the risk of losing him to injury once again. Going forward, Fiametta is a solid replacement (if not an upgrade) over Rodriguez and will serve the Bears well if he can stay healthy. With a strong set of intangibles, a reputation as a powerful lead blocker, and the ability to fulfill the hybrid role Marc Trestman envisions for his fullbacks, it is not hard to expect an excellent season from Fiametta.
Jake Wittenberg is a writer for Rantsports.com. You can follow him on Twitter here, like him on Facebook, or add him on Google.