At the end of the 2013 NFL regular season, the odds of Chicago Bears safety Chris Conte making the starting lineup for the following year were very slim. Despite being third on the team in tackles and tied for second in interceptions last season, Conte constantly struggled in Chicago’s secondary.
Since the start of the free agency period, the Bears signed safeties Ryan Mundy, M.D. Jennings, and Danny McCray, and re-signed safety Craig Steltz. All of these players will compete for a starting spot along with Conte this summer. Unfortunately for Conte, there is another hurdle standing in his way of retaining his place in the starting lineup.
Conte underwent shoulder surgery in late March, which could keep the fourth-year veteran on the shelf for four to five months. Assuming that it will only take four months for Conte to recover from surgery, he should be ready for the start of training camp in July. However, if it takes a bit longer, chances are that Conte will be no more than benchwarmer in 2014.
The new faces at safety recently added to the roster and shoulder surgery are already two tough things for Conte to handle, but it won’t end there. In over a month, the Bears will more than likely add another safety to the mix via the 2014 NFL Draft. There is a good chance that Chicago will target one in either the first or second round. Some people are predicting that the Bears will select Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Louisville’s Calvin Pryor. And there is even speculation that Chicago could pick Washington State’s Deone Bucannon, who visited the Bears this past Tuesday.
All in all, this surgery Conte just underwent was done to help better his chances of staying in the Bears’ starting lineup. However, this could also mark the beginning of the end for Conte in the Windy City.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller.