The trade for defensive end Gaines Adams on Friday turned into a loss for tight end Michael Gaines today.
The veteran tight end is the player the Bears released in order to create a roster spot for their new pass rusher. It's not a shocking move, although the Bears could have also picked from some rookies who do not figure to see action this season. Gaines was one of the final players to make the 53-man roster as a fourth tight end. He didn't have a role on special teams like Kellen Davis, the third tight end, and opportunities for him to play as an H-back type didn't really materialize. Gaines, who was signed on May 12 was inactive for two games and appeared as a sub only in the Seattle game.
This leaves the Bears with three tight ends, which is what most teams typically carry. Gaines' base salary was $650,000, so the remaining amount on it will cover about half of what Adams is earning this season, the pro-rated amount of $900,000. Gaines received a $250,000 signing bonus and a $100,000 roster bonus. His base salary was $650,000 and as a vested veteran he is eligible to put in for termination pay and receive the entire amount, which would be 11 remaining weeks of pay.
Now that the dust has settled, sort of, on the Gaines Adams trade, let's examine the roster move the Bears will have to make Saturday to add him to the 53-man roster.
Adams will come aboard after he passes his physical Saturday morning after arriving from Tampa. The Bears will have to release a player to make room, and with no significant injuries it is unlikely anyone will be placed on injured reserve. The club has not announced its intentions.
You don't have to look too far to find some candidates. We'll list some possibilities with a reason why they could be cut, and a reason for them to stick around. This list is in alphabetical order, not the order in which I see it playing out. Go ahead and make your own choice known.
Josh Bullocks. Why: The Bears have an excess with five safeties on the roster. Why not: Bullocks is starting to figure into the special teams mix, especially this week with running back Adrian Peterson out with a knee injury.
Michael Gaines. Why: The fourth tight end was a luxury to make the 53-man roster and he's barely been used. Why not: The broken rib suffered by Desmond Clark is a clear sign of how tough it is to keep players healthy at this position.
Juaquin Iglesias. Why: The third-round pick has yet to be active this season and did not perform well in training camp and preseason. Why not: He's a third-round pick and Jerry Angelo is unlikely to give up on a third rounder when he just traded a second-round pick.
Lance Louis. Why: He's a project who was one of the final players to make the roster and could probably be waived and re-signed to the practice squad. The misdemeanor assault charge against him in San Diego doesn't help. Why not: Louis is a young lineman who was used at guard and tackle in preseason, and the Bears need to develop youth on the line.
Darrell McClover. Why: The Bears are starting to get healthy at linebacker and he plays a role on special teams only. He was added just three weeks ago and would seem to be expendable as a seventh linebacker. Why not: The Bears added him because they needed a boost on special teams. Adams might add to the defense, but he's not going to help special teams.
D.J. Moore. Why: Moore has yet to be active and if the rookie fourth-round pick cannot carve out a role for himself on special teams, he's not going to contribute this season. Generously listed at 5-9, he's not big enough to be an every-down cornerback any way. Why not: Like Iglesias, Angelo doesn't want to get rid of a draft pick when he just traded one away to weaken his 2010 draft. Moore sticks because he's a developmental project.
Matt Toeaina. Why: Adding Adams gives the Bears 10 defensive linemen and Toeaina is the least used of the bunch. Why not: Tackles are impossible to find this time of year and just like you can't have too many pass rushers, you can't have too many tackles. He's needed for depth.
The Bears will re-sign defensive back DeAngelo Smith to their practice squad today, a league source said.
Smith was released from the 53-man roster last week to make room for linebacker Darrell McClover, who was signed to help on special teams.
Smith was a fifth-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys, and was claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Browns. The Bears claimed him off waivers when they waived/injured cornerback Trumaine McBride following the season opener at Green Bay.
In another sign that the Bears believe they will be healed up soon at linebacker, the club has made a roster move at the position with an eye toward special teams and not the defense.
That means Derrick Brooks is not coming to town. Instead, veteran linebacker Darrell McClover has been brought in for the second time in just more than a month, according to a source close to the player. McClover was signed by the team and takes the place of DeAngelo Smith, who was claimed off waivers from the Cleveland Browns two weeks ago. The Chicago Tribune first reported Smith would be cut. McClover can help on special teams immediately, an area that has been thinned out because of the injuries at linebacker. The Bears signed Tim Shaw was as a young guy who could come in and help out on special teams after Brian Urlacher was lost for the season. McClover can also do that and he's probably more familiar with the defense than Shaw.
McClover was the sixth linebacker the team kept on the roster last year. He appeared in 10 games but was placed on injured reserve in late November with a pulled hamstring. He produced 14 tackles on special teams and added a blocked punt. McClover made 36 special teams tackles in 28 games for the Bears from 2006 to 2008, earning the nickname "Commando" from teammates. He had a tryout with the Houston Texans during the offseason, and then was brought in for the final two preseason games where the Bears got a look at him and then made him one of the final roster cuts.
The Bears have made it official with a series of moves today to reach the 53-man roster limit before proceeding to the start of the 2009 season. The players will get back to work with practice Monday at Halas Hall. Here are the moves reported on the team's Web site:
CB Charles Tillman was promoted from the physically unable to perform list to the active roster
RB Kevin Jones was placed on inured reserve with a torn ligament in his left ankle
DE Henry Melton was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury
S Dahna Deleston was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury
Melton's ankle injury was not believed to be serious and it could be a way to stash the fourth-round pick from Texas on the squad for a year. The problem is he cannot practice while on IR so the only work he can do is in the classroom and weight room. This marks the third time in four years the Bears have placed at least one draft pick on IR prior to the opening of the season. It could be concerns about depth on the interior of the line cost him a spot as the Bears kept tackle Matt Toeaina, who right now figures to be third in the rotation at nose tackle.
Here are the official cuts:
QB Brett Basanez
FB Jason Davis
FB Will Ta'ufo,ou
WR Eric Peterman
WR Brandon Rideau
G Johan Asiata
OT Cody Balogh
G Dan Buenning
C Donovan Raiola
DE Ervin Baldwin
DE Joe Clermond
LB Marcus Freeman
LB Kevin Malast
LB Darrell McClover
LB Mike Rivera
CB Rudy Burgess
CB Rod Hood
CB Marcus Hamilton
CB Woodny Turenne
There is throwing darts against the wall, taking a stab at something, giving it the ol' college try and taking a shot in the dark.
Somewhere amongst those exercises falls my effort to select the Bears' 53-man roster before it is selected by the men who make the decisions--Jerry Angelo, Lovie Smith and their staffs. The best guess after evaluating training camp, preseason, past history and everything else that goes into trying to enter another man's mind will appear in Thursday's edition of the Sun-Times. We'll lay it out here on Thursday for continued discussion, a much worthier topic than what you're actually looking forward to seeing in the preseason finale vs. the Cleveland Browns. Final cuts, by the way, are due to the league office by 5 p.m. Saturday.
But I'll list some bubble players here, some that made my 53 and others who didn't:
Adrian Peterson: A coach once called the veteran running back a security blanket for his ability to stick around. He doesn't do anything particularly well where he jumps out at you, but he does everything the right way and is about as reliable a player as you will find on the roster. In my estimation, a roster spot comes down to him and tight end Michael Gaines (more on that in a little bit). Peterson ran hard and ran well last Sunday in Denver, prompting one scout from another organization to inquire about what kind of guy he is. If the Bears let Peterson go, he's likely to find work elsewhere. The obvious plus to keeping a player like Peterson is his ability on special teams, but he wasn't quite as strong in that phase last season as he was in previous years.
Devin Aromashodu: From the looks of things there are three wide receiver battling for two roster spots. Yes, it strikes me as odd that the team that gets off the bus running is going to keep six wide receivers, but that's what happens when they draft three and plan to keep two--Juaquin Iglesias and Johnny Knox. Aromashodu has the least special teams value of the wide receivers on the bubble, at least based on his use in preseason. But he's a big target who Jay Cutler started referencing early in training camp before anyone knew who he was. When Aromashodu is on the field, Cutler looks his way. if the quarterbacks gets a vote, and boy we know he'd like one, he sticks.
Rashied Davis: Of the wideouts who circulate through with the first team, none got less action than Davis. He's trying to regain some momentum after a 2008 season in which he was used completely out of position by the coaching staff. Davis simply hasn't done much on offense and Cutler has not thrown a pass to him in preseason. But if you were starting to cross him off your list, he made tackles on the first two special teams plays of the game at Denver. Davis also has experience in the slot, even if Earl Bennett is getting most of the work there right now, especially in some of the packages where tight end Greg Olsen is flexed out wide.
Brandon Rideau: He opened the preseason as the No. 3 wide receiver on the depth chart and he's remained in that spot as he was the first one off the sideline when the Bears went to three at Denver. But Cutler has not looked his way like he has Aromashodu. Rideau, however, scores points because he's been more active on special teams than Aromashodu. They are both about the same size and offer something different for the quarterback in the system.
Michael Gaines: Signed to be a blocking tight end and an H-back who could also line up in the backfield, Gaines just hasn't gotten a lot of action in preseason. It's hard to justify keeping four tight ends on the roster unless there is going to be a specific duty for each one on Sundays. Typically, the Bears keep a fourth tight end for practice purposes on the practice squad, and the expectation is they will do that again this year. Gaines could help, though, because Jason McKie is the only fullback expected to make the roster. Having Gaines would give the team some flexibility if they needed help at the position during a game.
The Bears brought in some competition for special teams by adding a familiar face today.
Linebacker Darrell McClover was signed and he will be able to contribute immediately for Dave Toub's special teams unit after spending the last three seasons with the club.
McClover was the sixth linebacker the team kept on the roster to begin the season last year. He appeared in 10 games but was placed on injured reserve in late November with a pulled hamstring. He produced 14 tackles on special teams and added a blocked punt. McClover made 36 special teams tackles in 28 games for the Bears from 2006 to 2008. He's been out of work since his contract expired after last season.
It's been a while since we went through the mailbag so we'll knock out more than four questions this morning in Four Down Territory as we take a little break from the position-by-position previews that have been running in our 30-day countdown to Bourbonnais. Here we go.
Q: What about a contract extension for Danieal Manning? He's slated to have an uncanny season at kick returner which means, of course, that the Bears will need the extra money to give him an extension and convert him to wide receiver.
Mike, Parts Unknown
A: Looks like we have a jokester here. Is that Manning switch right after Brian Urlacher is moved to free safety and Chris Zorich is re-signed to play middle linebacker? It's a good question when it comes to Manning. Not sure what he is going to have to do to have an "uncanny" season. Manning would have made the Pro Bowl last season if he had replaced Devin Hester as the kickoff returner about a month prior to the move that was made in Week 11. He averaged 29.7 yards per return, the club's highest total in nearly 35 years, and became only the fifth player in franchise history to top 1,000 yards for a season. Now, consider first that Manning didn't see all of the gimmicks (bloops, squibs, sky kicks, you name it) that Hester did when he was the primary kickoff returner. Opponents will likely pay more attention to Manning this coming season but special teams coordinator Dave Toub is quick to adjust and his schemes have proven the test of time. Defensively, Manning was on the field one-third of the time in 2008, getting 370 snaps out of the 1,111 total. He seemed to make progress as a nickel back, particularly in the second half of the season. Manning was in that role during the spring until a hamstring injury, one of many suffered on the roster, sidelined him and Corey Graham took his place for the last two weeks of OTA's. It looks like Manning will remain in that role entering training camp but if Nathan Vasher nails down the right cornerback job and Craig Steltz winds up being the free safety, the coaching staff might give Graham more of a look at nickel, where he played one game last season. Is there a possibility the club re-signs Manning, who is entering the final year of his contract? Sure. He probably should have been on the list of players we made. But a kickoff returner who does or does not double as a nickel corner isn't going to get a huge contract.
Q: You didn't mention Lance Louis in your preview of the fullbacks. Is there a reason why? Didn't the Bears say he could play tight end as well as fullback when they selected him?
Oscar T., Chicago
A: There is a somewhat popular notion that Lance Louis will reprise the role of William Perry and do some heavy duty work in the backfield. We don't see it happening. We don't see Louis playing any tight end, either. The Bears don't have a spot at tight end for him with Desmond Clark, Greg Olsen, Kellen Davis and Michael Gaines. They don't need a project at the position because they already have one in Davis. Louis, who was issued No. 60, which is an ineligible number, is going to have a hard time making the roster as a seventh-round pick. He'd have an even more difficult time making the 45-man gameday roster, and it's unlikely he'd be active for a possible gimmick play involving him lining up at an eligible position.
To re-sign Mike Brown or not ... that's one of the questions the Bears will have to answer soon if they have not already tackled that issue in a Halas Hall board room.
If the organization has not already completed organizational meetings reviewing the 2008 season and charting a path for the offseason ahead, it will probably do so by the end of the week. That would give them next week to gear up for the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, which begins Thursday, Feb. 19.
One of the first orders of business for general manager Jerry Angelo is determining what to do with his own own players. All clubs hold exclusive negotiating rights with their own free agents until free agency opens Feb. 27. Brown and left tackle John St. Clair are the only primary starters from last season who will be unrestricted free agents. Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, running back Kevin Jones, quarterback Rex Grossman, linebacker Darrell McClover and safeties Brandon McGowan and Cameron Worrell will be UFA's. Weak-side linebacker Nick Roach and cornerback Marcus Hamilton are exclusive rights free agents.