Free Agency: Is Shea McClellin done with Bears?
With NFL free agency only a month away, the Bears have a lot of decisions awaiting them. Who will they attempt to re-sign? Who will they target on the open market? Two of the biggest names on their own roster that will explore the open waters unless the Bears act on them are running back Matt Forte and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.
But what about former first-round pick, Shea McClellin? ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson poses the question: Are the Bears ready to cut ties with the underperforming choice of former general manager Phil Emery?
McClellin was a pass-rushing specialist out of Boise State when he was selected 19th overall in the 2012 draft. The Bears — like most teams, frankly — were desperate for pass rushing help and decided to convert McClellin to defensive end. McClellin was clearly overwhelmed and undersized at the position and could not cut the mustard there. The team moved him to outside linebacker under former head coach Marc Trestman and then again to the inside under new coach John Fox — both places he struggled to make plays.
The team thought highly enough of McClellin to make him the play caller of the defense, but calling plays and aligning the defense is only part of the job. Being a cornerstone in the middle is a much bigger task, that which McClellin failed to achieve.
“I thought he did well in making that adjustment [to the inside],” general manager Ryan Pace said. “There are some positive things about him and I think you have to take into account he’s still growing at that position.”
That doesn’t sound like a man who is ready to cut ties with McClellin. Then again, it could just be a smoke screen.
The New Orleans Saints on Monday released six-time Pro Bowl guard Jahri Evans, per multiple reports. The move was a cost-cutting procedure to save them from having to pay his upcoming roster bonus.
Evans is 32 years old and heading in the wrong direction, but is still better than what the Bears have on the roster at guard. If Kyle Long stays at tackle — either on the right side or the left — the Bears could use improvement on the inside where Vladimir Ducasse was a bit of a disappointment in 2015.
Bears general manager Ryan Pace is familiar with Evans when he spent time with the Saints organization, and that could help with negotiations if the Bears are even entertaining the idea of bringing the veteran in for a look.
Former Bears general manager Phil Emery is returning to the Atlanta Falcons and will work in the scouting and personnel department, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Emery was with the Falcons as director of college scouting from 2004-08 before joining the Bears from 2012-14.
The 1985 Chicago Bears inevitably were going to make their way into the media spotlight in the two weeks leading up to Super Bowl 50, and it didn’t take long to do so.
Per ESPN, Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera is turning to the advice that Mike Ditka told him and his ’85 Bears teammates in the buildup to Super Bowl XX — which was 30 years ago today.
“Enjoy the moment,” Rivera noted as the key piece of advice Ditka relayed to his players. “The moment doesn’t come very often. It’s hard. It’s hard to get to where we are right now.”
It seems clear that Rivera might have already conveyed this message to his players all season or, at the very least, have allowed them to celebrate loose and free, given that there is more dancing in a Panthers football game than on the set of Dancing with the Stars.