The Chicago Bears’ roster purge is just beginning.
ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson explores several high-profile, high-salary Bears players who the team needs to make a decision on for 2018. Dickerson lists quarterback Mike Glennon, wide receiver Markus Wheaton, safety Quintin Demps, and cornerback Marcus Cooper among the players who are on the proverbial roster bubble heading into this offseason and are probably on their way out.
One big-name defender who could hang around in 2018 is outside linebacker/edge defender Pernell McPhee, a player with whom the Bears find themselves in a bit of a predicament. McPhee has a base salary of $7.2 million, but his roster bonus (a relatively small $200,000) isn’t due until June 1. Dickerson reports the Bears could save $7.075 million against the cap if they let McPhee go, but also offers up a scenario in which he returns for a fourth season in Chicago.
“The only way McPhee returns is if he agrees to take a reduced salary. The Bears just can’t justify paying a situational player with a history of health problems $7.2 million for another year,” Dickerson writes. “Now, there’s value in McPhee coming back. He tells it like it is in the locker room. The Bears need guys like McPhee. The team as a whole was way too sensitive to internal criticism last year.”
McPhee isn’t the fearsome pass rusher he once was, but his presence in the locker room hasn’t changed one bit. He is a vocal leader and one of the rare football voices who doesn’t sugarcoat anything or pretend like everything is some sort of highly confidential secret. It’s refreshing and the Bears could certainly use more of that in the coming years. Surely they could use an increase in production from McPhee, who has just eight sacks in his last 22 games after piling up six in his first 13.
If the Bears and McPhee can come to an agreement on a re-worked deal, it would be nice to have some veteran leadership on the defensive side of the ball. And if McPhee is healthy enough to provide a hint of depth among the Bears’ pass rushers in 2018, then it’s the kind of win-win scenario Vic Fangio’s defense would greatly appreciate in 2018.