Chicago Bears continue roster purge by releasing McPhee, Demps

The Bears cleared more space under the salary cap Monday by releasing a pair of veteran defenders, outside linebacker Pernell McPhee and safety Quintin Demps.

McPhee was the first of general manager Ryan Pace's big-ticket signings in free agency, but chronic knee problems limited him to just 36 games in three seasons after signing a five-year, $38.75 million deal in 2015. He managed six sacks in his first season for the Bears, but had just four in each of the next two seasons as he missed 10 games. The 29-year-old McPhee would have been paid $7.2 million in base salary in 2018 and $7.625 million in 2019.

The Bears are expected to be especially interested in outside linebackers in free agency and the draft, since the next two players on their OLB depth chart at the end of the 2017 season, Sam Acho and Lamarr Houston, are both unrestricted free agents. Willie Young, who played just four games last year before suffering a season-ending triceps injury, had 24 sacks in the previous three seasons, but he's 32.

Demps was brought in last year to add the ball skills that have been absent in the Bears' secondary for three consecutive seasons, but he suffered a fractured arm after playing just three games. He had 12 tackles but no interceptions, after picking off 15 passes in the previous four seasons.

Demps was due a $500,000 roster bonus on March 18 as part of the three-year, $13.5 million contract he signed a year ago. The 32-year-old would have been paid a base of $3 million this year and $4 million in 2019.

Safety Adrian Amos, who had started 30 games in his first two seasons with the Bears, reclaimed his starting spot when Demps was sidelined, and the 2015 fifth-round draft pick turned in the best season of his three-year career. Eddie Jackson, a fourth-round pick from Alabama, started all 16 games at the other safety position as a rookie.

• Bob LeGere is a senior writer at Pro Football Weekly. Follow Bob's Bears reports on Twitter @BobLeGere or @PFWeekly.

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