The Bears released defensive tackle Tommie Harris, linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer and offensive tackle Kevin Shaffer in moves that may come as a surprise to some but in the end may be three of the better moves that the Bears make all offseason.
The loss of Harris should really not come as a surprise after he has regressed over the past few seasons. His injury problems had taken their toll on Harris and he was not close to being the way that he was before. And for the money that they paid for him it’s the right move that they let him go.
Now the Bears need to go out and find someone to replace Harris. That guy may already be on the team and it could be Henry Melton that ends up taking the place of Harris in the lineup. Melton had a pretty nice season in 2010 and has the tools to be a regular in the rotation that the Bears are sporting on the defensive line.
With that, Chicago also needs to add some depth on the defensive line and should look to adding someone in the draft. There are many possibilities for the Bears in the second , third and fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft so the Bears need to be looking at getting some help at the defensive tackle position in one of those rounds or beyond.
The release of Hillenmeyer came as somewhat of a shock to many because of the value that he had displayed as a backup at the linebacker position since he came to Chicago. He was flexible enough to play all three positions as needed and was good on special teams.
But after suffering the concussion and having symptoms as a result (thus putting him on the injured reserve list for the season) the Bears may have felt that his medical problem (those people that suffer concussions are much more susceptible to them) was too much to bear and so they probably let him go as a result.
So with his release the Bears are going to have to go out and grab a linebacker to back up the three starters. This linebacker doesn’t have to a veteran but ideally someone with some NFL experience would be good.
Releasing Shaffer could be a blessing in disguise for fans as it does indicate that the Bears are clearing out some space at the offensive tackle position to bring in some help there. Shaffer was ineffective for the better part of his career in Chicago and just didn’t fit in right even from start.
So now we should look for the Bears to come out and look at offensive tackles in the 2011 NFL Draft perhaps even in the first round. After the combine several offensive tackles have cemented themselves as first round picks and there are a couple of them that could fall to the Bears in the first round.
Chicago may also be looking some help at the wide receiver and cornerback position in the draft and seemingly kept a close eye on those two positions during the combine. A wide receiver could come fairly early in the draft while a defensive back could come in the middle to late rounds of the upcoming draft.
There will be further analysis of the Bear’s possibilities in the draft as we draw closer to the draft at the end of April.