With 19 players due to become free agents Tuesday, it will be a busy off-season for the Bears, whether it's re-signing their own players or replacing those who depart.
Arguments can be made for keeping each of the 19 or for letting them walk. Today we'll examine offense and special teams.
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The Bears have already re-signed several of their own players to keep them in Chicago, and more could be locked up before the market opens. But they won't all be back. Others could return to the Bears after testing the waters, but it's certain that next year's roster will have a much different look.
In the NFL the only constant is change.
OL Eben Britton
Bring him back: He's a versatile veteran with 34 NFL starts who played extensively as a sixth lineman last season, helped provide improved pass protection and gave the offense another dimension. He's still just 26 but already has five years' experience.
Let him leave: If the offensive line takes another step in its development, it should be able to protect the QB with the standard five O-linemen, making Britton expendable. But none of the Bears backups has the resume that he does.
LB Blake Costanzo:
Bring him back: Costanzo's value is strictly on special teams as a kick-coverage guy, and he led the Bears in that department with 17 tackles last season, the firth time in six years he's been in double digits.
Let him leave: He'll be 30 next month and doesn't figure in the base defense at all.
RS Devin Hester
Bring him back / let him leave: Both parties have bid adieu, so this one's moot.
LS Patrick Mannelly
Bring him back: Even though he'll be 39 next month and has played 16 seasons, Mannelly is still one of the best and as steady as they come.
Let him leave: He missed two games with a calf injury last season and six with a knee injury in 2011, so maybe he's finally showing signs of aging. It could be time for a change to a younger and cheaper player. Mannelly's cap hit in 2013 was $990,000.
QB Josh McCown
Bring him back: He's coming off the best season of his career and had the third-highest passer rating (109.0) in the NFL. He still has more than enough athleticism at 33 to play a couple more years. He's a team leader who knows his role well and coach Marc Trestman's offense even better.
Let him leave: McCown will not come as cheaply as he did the past three seasons. His salary last season was $865,000, and there will be multiple teams willing to pay him a lot more than that because McCown is good enough to compete for a starting job but will accept a backup role in the interest of doing what's best for the team.
QB Jordan Palmer:
Bring him back: He's an inexpensive insurance policy with a veteran presence and the smarts to pick up an offense quickly.
Let him leave: It's never too soon to draft a young, developmental QB to groom for the future. At 29, Palmer no longer fits that description.
OT Jonathan Scott
Bring him back: He's a cagey veteran who has played both OT positions and started seven games as recently as 2012.
Let him leave: Did not play a single snap last season, even though he was on the roster for 15 games. His roster spot would be better used on a young project/prospect.
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