With free agency beginning next Tuesday, the Bears cleared an additional $1.025 million in cap space with the Wednesday release of veteran punter Adam Podlesh, who slumped badly last season.
The seven-year veteran was 33rd in the league with a gross average of 40.6 yards, the lowest of his career. Podlesh was also 29th with a net average of 37.9 yards, his lowest in six years.
In his first two seasons with the Bears, Podlesh established the franchise record for net punting average in 2011 (40.4 yards), and his 39.4-yard average in 2012 was second best in team history.
Podlesh addressed his release on Twitter, writing: "A sincere thank you to the Bears organization and fans for the opportunity to represent a first class franchise and city."
The 30-year-old Podlesh signed a five-year, $10 million deal with the Bears prior to the 2011 season, after he spent his first four years in the league with the Jaguars, who drafted him in the fourth round in 2007 out of Maryland.
Podlesh's release leaves the Bears with two punters on their roster. They signed rookie Tress Way and second-year player Drew Butler to reserve/future contracts following the 2013 season.
Butler is the son of former Bears kicker Kevin Butler, the all-time leading scorer in franchise history, who scored 1,116 points from 1985-95. Drew Butler spent the 2012 season with the Steelers but was out of the NFL last season. With Pittsburgh, he had a gross average of 43.6 yards on 77 punts.
Way, originally signed by the Bears last year as an undrafted free agent from Oklahoma, averaged 38.2 gross yards on 6 preseason punts with a 32.5-yard net average. He was waived Aug. 25.