Bears

Omiyale release ends three yo-yo years for the veteran O-lineman

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Omiyale release ends three yo-yo years for the veteran O-lineman

One of the more interesting player sagas in and around the Bears over the past few year came to an end Thursday when the Bears released veteran offensive lineman Frank Omiyale.

The team also announced the release of veteran nose tackle Anthony Adams, expected since the team informed Adams last weekend of the impending roster move.

Omiyales departure finishes a three-year run in Chicago marked by sharp changes of fortune. Omiyale ranged from an apparent bust in 2009 to de facto savior on the line in 2010 to odd man out last season. His 2.1 million pay grade in the final year of his contract made it an expected cut from about the middle of last season.

Omiyale appeared in every game the Bears played during his three seasons with the team (2009-11), making 31 starts at both guard (12 starts at left guard) and tackle (five starts at RT and 14 at LT) in 48 regular season games.

He also made two postseason starts at left tackle for the Bears. The seven-year veteran began his career in Atlanta, appearing in one contest in 2006 before being claimed off waivers by Carolina in 2007 where he appeared in 10 games with one start for the Panthers over two seasons.

The Bears signed Omiyale in the 2009 offseason as part of a push to upsize the offensive line. He was installed as the starter at left guard, which lasted only six games before the Bears switched to Josh Beekman. When Beekman proved inadequate, Omiyale went back in to start the final six games.

Omiyale was the starting right tackle to open 2010. But when Chris Williams was injured week two in Dallas, and Kevin Shaffer could not handle left tackle, Omiyale switched to left tackle and stayed there through the entire season and the two playoff games.

Then-line coach Mike Tice initially considered Omiyales best position to be tackle because of his longer reach, and Omiyale went back to right tackle to start training camp last season.

But the Bears drafted Gabe Carimi last April and moved JMarcus Webb to left tackle. When Carimi was ready, he replaced Omiyale. Carimi went down with a knee injury in week two and Omiyale stepped back in at right tackle.

His stint lasted just three games this time and protection problems resulted in coaches moving Lance Louis from guard to right tackle. Omiyale continued to play on field-goal protection but his time as an every down lineman was done.

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

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USA TODAY

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

The Bears placed Leonard Floyd on injured reserve Thursday morning, ending the second-year outside linebacker’s season following a knee injury suffered Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Floyd suffered an MCL and PCL injury and will have surgery in the next week, coach John Fox said, and the Bears do not have a timetable for his recovery yet. But that Floyd didn't suffer damage to his ACL is potentially good news for Floyd's recovery timetable. 

Still, with Floyd on injured reserve and out for the season, the Bears’ current outside linebacker depth chart consists of two veterans (Pernell McPhee and Sam Acho) and two practice squad signees (Isaiah Irving and Howard Jones). These final six games of the 2017 season could serve as auditions for all four players for roles on the 2018 Bears. 

If every team needs at least three good pass rushers, the Bears can count on Akiem Hicks and Floyd for 2018, provided Floyd comes back healthy. But who’s the third?

The Bears could save about $7.5 million in cap space if they release McPhee in 2018; if they were to cut ties with Willie Young, who’s on injured reserve right now as well, it would provide $4.5 million in cap relief. McPhee will be 29 in December, while Young will turn 33 next September. 

The Bears won’t necessarily need the cap relief next year, and could certainly decide to keep both players, who’ve shown they’re still productive when healthy. But even if both players are back, the Bears may need to add another outside linebacker via free agency of the draft — remember, the team could’ve began the season with Floyd, Young, McPhee, Acho and Lamarr Houston as their outside linebackers; an injury Houston suffered in the fourth preseason game ended his time in Chicago. 

Needs at wide receiver and cornerback are pressing, but outside linebacker may need to be in that same conversation. If the Bears have a top-10 pick for the fourth consecutive year, plus some cap space, they perhaps could have the ability to address all three needs in March and April. 

That may be looking a little too far into the future, though. The best-case for the Bears is McPhee finishes the season strong and Irving and/or Jones shows something in the opportunities they receive in these final six games (Jones, for what it’s worth, had five sacks as a rookie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015). But the worst-case — and perhaps the most realistic — is that the Bears go into the offseason needing to fill at least one pass-rushing spot. 

Under Center Podcast: Can Mitch Trubisky follow Carson Wentz’s path to stardom?

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Under Center Podcast: Can Mitch Trubisky follow Carson Wentz’s path to stardom?

JJ Stankevitz and John “Moon” Mullin are joined by NBC Sports Philadelphia Eagles reporter Dave Zangaro to offer an encouraging connection between Carson Wentz’s growth and that of Mitchell Trubisky.

Check out the entire podcast here: