Since the NFL’s deadline of using a franchise tag on a player has come and gone, teams have now started to make room on their rosters (and in their bank account) for the upcoming offseason, which officially starts on Mar. 11. As for the Chicago Bears, their first casualty was punter Adam Podlesh.
The Bears cut ties with Podlesh on Wednesday after he spent the past three years in the Windy City. The seven-year veteran had a 2013 season that he would love to forget; Podlesh was 33rd in the league in gross punting average (40.6) and 29th in net punting average (37.9). The release of Podlesh didn’t give much breathing room for Chicago’s salary cap, but it could be the start of a much-needed process.
There are many other players currently under contract that the Bears could get rid of. However, the two that just might be next in line are defensive end Julius Peppers and running back Michael Bush.
Peppers is the most logical candidate to get his walking papers. The 34-year-old’s 7.5 sacks and overall performance last season didn’t match the paycheck that he was receiving. Of course, if Peppers takes a huge pay cut, then the Bears could keep him for some much-needed depth on the defensive line and have some money to play with in free agency.
The same can be said for Bush when it comes to lack of production on the field. Bush, the team’s primary goal line back, had only three rushing touchdowns and a career-low 3.1 yards per carry in 2013. It’s been rumored that second-year running back Michael Ford could be a suitable replacement for Bush at a much cheaper price.
Speaking of suitable replacements, there is also speculation that wide receiver Earl Bennett could possibly be given the ax in place of second-year wide receiver Marquess Wilson. Bennett will be entering the final year of his contract in 2014, but I don’t think that the Bears will consider releasing Bennett at this point in time. The organization should get a much clearer indication of what they want to do with Bennett once they see how he competes against Wilson for the No. 3 receiver in training camp this summer.
There could be some more players that the Bears are strongly considering for termination in the upcoming weeks, but Peppers and Bush are most definitely the two prime nominees on the Bears’ chopping block.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller.