The Bears continued shedding veterans and netting cap savings on Monday, with the team announcing the releases of linebacker Pernell McPhee and safety Quintin Demps.
Those two cuts come on the heels of the Bears last week releasing guard Josh Sitton and linebacker Jerrell Freeman. All told, those four moves garner the Bears about $21 million in cap savings; the expected release of quarterback Mike Glennon will produce $11.5 million more in cap savings, per Spotrac, and if the Bears release Markus Wheaton and Marcus Cooper, that’d save another $9.5 million.
But in releasing two more veterans — Demps, like Sitton and Freeman, was a captain; McPhee was regarded as a good locker room guy, too — the Bears are continuing to get younger, too.
Adrian Amos’ emergence as a solid player (maybe not an elite one, as some outside evaluations have pegged him as) made Demps an unlikely candidate to return as an expensive backup. Demps missed all but three games in 2017 due to a fractured forearm, and regrettably for him, his most notable moment was getting stiff-armed by Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper on an 88-yard touchdown in Week 1.
McPhee’s production never matched the five-year, $38.75 million contract he signed in 2015, which was Ryan Pace’s first big splash as general manager. McPhee played in 36 of the Bears’ 48 games his three years in Chicago, only starting 17 of those and recording 14 sacks. He’ll be 30 in December, and despite being a positive presence at Halas Hall, his play didn’t match the near-$8 million cap number attached to him for 2018. The Bears could certainly look to draft an edge rusher with the No. 8 pick in April's NFL Draft.
While Sitton wasn’t one of Pace’s free agent misses, McPhee, Freeman and Demps fall into that category (as do Glennon, Wheaton and Cooper). The Bears could wind up cutting ties with all of those busts, giving Pace plenty of money to spend on second contracts for Eddie Goldman and, possibly, Amos, as well as in this year’s free agent market. It’s now on Pace to make sure he hits on more of his free agent targets than he has in the past while nailing an important draft to build out the roster around a franchise quarterback and a first-year coach.
“Free agency is high risk, and we understand that,” Pace said on New Year’s Day. “I think with free agency you have to be very disciplined during that time period, and I think we have been in regards to how we’ve structured a lot of these contracts. I think that’s helped. But I think as we continue to build more through the draft, we can continue to be a little more selective in free agency. There have been some hits. We talk about (Danny) Trevathan and (Akiem) Hicks. And there have been some misses too. That’s on me. We need to get better in that area, and we will get better in that area. But primarily our goal, as you know, is build through the draft and develop those players.”