The Chicago Bears released veteran cornerback Prince Amukamara on Friday in a move that was expected in order to free up salary-cap space in advance of free agency this March.
By moving on from Amukamara, the Bears will have an additional $9 million to spend on the open market, which could ultimately be used on his replacement. It could also be shifted to other positions of need along the offensive line or on that pesky veteran quarterback who's sure to rile up the fan base.
There's also the Allen Robinson contract extension that eventually needs to get hammered out.
The good news for Chicago is there are several viable options who will be available in free agency and the NFL draft that can replace Amukamara in the starting lineup. Here's a look at five of them:
Former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator and current Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio has long been known as an old-school coach who brings a tough and grizzled approach to the locker room.
He's also an old-school talent evaluator who said the disruption to the 2020 NFL Draft process caused by the COVID-19 outbreak will test the scouting adage that suggests a prospect's college tape is the majority of his final grade.
“I think every year you hear people say — scouts and coaches and personnel people — that 90 percent of the evaluation is off the tape,” Fangio said during a conference call with reporters on March 31. “The other 10 percent is the combine and pro days and all the other stuff that goes on with it. This is the year it will really be tested.
“A lot of times you can guess how fast a guy runs generally speaking. It’s more important what the tape is. That’s what everybody says. This will be the year that it is really put to the test."
With team headquarters closed around the league, front offices can't hold prospect visits or workouts at their facility. Similarly, teams can't put prospects through medical re-checks to finalize their 2020 draft grade. There are going to be uncomfortable leaps of faith taken by general managers this year.
But as Fangio said, it's mostly about the tape anyway. At least, that's what the NFL wants you to believe.
Nick Foles may not have been the first choice among Bears fans who were hoping the team would add competition for Mitch Trubisky this offseason, but he was apparently a popular target in NFL circles as a quarterback who can help a team that's on the brink of the playoffs get over that difficult hump.
The Bears were bidding against several teams, including the Indianapolis Colts, according to The Athletic's Dan Pompei.
"The Jaguars weren’t shopping Foles this year," Pompei wrote, "but the Colts were bidding as well as the Bears. And others were in the mix, from what little birdies say."
Colts general manager Chris Ballard is widely regarded as one of the best (if not the best) GMs in the sport, and while his interest in Foles isn't confirmation that Ryan Pace made the right decision targeting the former backup-turned-Super Bowl winner, it certainly helps ease at least some concerns fans have about Foles.
The Bears confirmed this week that Foles and Trubisky are headed for an open competition for the starting quarterback job. It was an expected result from the trade for Foles that sent the Jaguars a fourth-round pick, a relatively high price to pay for a player destined for the bench.
While Chicago may want Trubisky to be the long-term answer behind center, the fact Pace hasn't committed to the former No. 2 overall pick's fifth-year option is more proof of how disappointing he's been after three years with the Bears.