The NFL moves quickly, even during the dog days of the offseason.
Last Wednesday, Jeremiah Attaochu — who was transitioning from being a pass-rushing outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense into a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme — was kicking it old school while playing a position he hadn’t since college. And was even sounding like he was willing to embrace change:
But life comes at you fast:
It is a defensive line swap as the offseason roster churn continues.
Five days after making the comments above, out goes Attaochu. The Bears brought in Attaochu to be a rotational pass-rushing edge defender last offseason. They even got some help from Khalil Mack, who reportedly was aiding in the recruitment process. But I suppose with Mack gone, it was only a matter of time until Attaochu (who had a questionable schematic fit) was following him out the door. Per OverTheCap.com’s calculations, cutting Attaochu creates
$1.65 million (UPDATE: $2.45M, per PFF’s Brad Spielberger) in salary cap space and brings the Bears to $23,860,674 under the cap. Of course, it comes with a $1.45 million dead money hit, but we can add that to the already considerable pile and no one will notice.
Seriously, the Bears are eating $56,600,623 worth of dead money for players who aren’t playing for the team in 2022. Ryan Pace would likely hide his face in shame if someone were to bring that number up to him. Then again, Pace’s current employer (the Falcons) are the only team with more dead money on their books — $63,209,458 worth of dead cash. Yikes!
Back to the Bears. In a corresponding move, in comes Mike Pennel. A defensive tackle who spent some time with the Bears when Eddie Goldman’s status was up-in-the-air, Pennel also has a history with GM Ryan Poles as they crossed paths while in Kansas City during the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Unlike Attaochu, who was a pass-rushing linebacker by trade, Pennel is a more traditional defensive tackle. Pennel spent last year in Atlanta, playing 10 games (no starts) and appearing on 37 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. The Bears came into this week a little light at the defensive tackle spot. But adding Pennel’s 6-foot-4, 330-pound changes that a bit.