The Chicago Bears’ round of offseason cuts has cleared ample salary cap room to spend on roster improvements, but the latest has also created a new position of need.
Bears GM Ryan Pace told reporters the team will terminate the contract of outside linebacker/defensive end/edge rusher Willie Young. While the move creates $4.5 million in salary cap savings, it also makes pass rush a position of (greater) need.
And to think, the Bears looked to be in good shape as far as edge defenders are concerned when training camp opened in 2017. Nearly eight months later, things have changed … drastically.
Young was coming off a three-year run in which he picked up 24 sacks in 46 games. Leonard Floyd was ready to take the next step in his development as a second-year player. Pernell McPhee and Lamarr Houston were prepared to put their health issues aside and return to form as a feared pass-rusher. Things didn’t go as planned for Chicago’s edge rushers, as Floyd, McPhee, and Young each ended the season on injured reserve. Houston didn’t make the team out of camp and was waived/injured before returning for the final five games of the year after a brief stint with the Texans. In the end, four Bears outside linebackers (including Young because of a triceps injury) ended the 2017 season on injured reserve.
What was once believed to be a strength on the defense is now a question-mark. One could make a case that pass rush is as big of a need as wide receiver. Floyd, Howard Jones, and undrafted free agent Isaiah Irving are the only outside linebackers under contract with the Bears for 2018. With that in mind, we recently offered up solutions to the Bears problems, which could be solved in free agency and the draft.
While the need has grown exponentially this offseason, at least there will be money to spend. Dan Durkin of The Athletic reports releasing Young will bring the Bears’ estimated cap space to $67.2 million. And once the team officially parts ways with Mike Glennon, that number will go up to $78.7 million.
Giddy up. Another free agent spending spree awaits … and the Bears’ needs couldn’t be any clearer.