By Chris Emma–
(670 The Score) An offseason of change continued for the Bears on Monday with the releases of linebacker Pernell McPhee and safety Quintin Demps.
General manager Ryan Pace continued a roster purge of veteran contracts, which is the theme of this early offseason. The releases of McPhee and Demps create more than $10 million more in cap room for the Bears, pushing their available total past the $60-million mark.
McPhee, 29, was the first major free-agent signing for Pace. Signed to a five-year deal in 2015, McPhee played in 36 of a possible 48 games, recording 90 tackles and 14 sacks while dealing with injuries and procedures to both knees.
When healthy, McPhee made an impact for the Bears defense. He recorded five sacks in his first seven games with the team in 2015 before dealing with an injury to his left knee. Rather than shutting it down that season, McPhee waited until after the season to have the procedure done in February. He then opened the 2016 season on the physically-unable-to-perform list. He played in just nine games that season.
McPhee’s left knee was deemed healthy last summer, but an irregularity in the right knee was revealed during a physical at the start of training camp last July, which was a re-occurrence to an injury he suffered with the Ravens. It would mark the beginning of the end for his time with the Bears.
Demps, 32, joined the Bears last March on a three-year deal but suffered a fractured forearm three games into the season. He was designated for a return from injured reserve late in the season before the team ultimately shut him down.
While Demps was sidelined last season, the Bears saw third-year safety Adrian Amos play his best football yet. Amos, now 24, lost out his starting spot to rookie Eddie Jackson. The injury to Demps then allowed Amos the opportunity to play alongside Jackson, and the Bears came away believing they had a tandem in the defensive backfield.
The Bears also released linebacker Jerrell Freeman last week and declined a team option on Josh Sitton, their latest in cap-clearing moves. The team could also move in the coming days to release quarterback Mike Glennon and receiver Markus Wheaton, which would open up more than $16 million in additional cap room.
By releasing some of his prior free-agent signings, Pace is positioning the Bears to be among the leaders in cap room ahead of the NFL’s new year on March 14.