After two seasons and two PED suspensions the Chicago Bears are parting ways with linebacker Jerrell Freeman.
Freeman played in just the opening week of the 2017 season, before being placed on injured reserve before week two and then being hit with a 10-game PED suspension, his second suspension in his two years with the Bears.
Freeman’s first suspension was for four games in 2016, although he still finished that season with a team-high 110 tackles.
Cutting Freeman saves the Bears $3.5 million this season, money that could (and likely will) be used to sign Freeman’s replacement.
Cutting Freeman shows that the Bears are confident in how Nick Kwiatkowski has developed over the last two years and are ready to hand one the the starting linebacker spots to him after the West Virginia product held his own while filling in for Freeman last season.
However the Bears, already thin at the linebacker position, now must look for Freeman’s replacement either through the draft or free agency. Nigel Bradham could be the face of the unit, and brings championship experience having just won the Super Bowl with the Eagles. However, it’s unlikely that Philly let’s one of their most solid players leave their championship unit.
A name to follow is Kevin Pierre-Louis, a 26-year-old who is coming from a rotational role inKansas City. New head coach Matt Nagy may already have a feel for the type of player he can be if given more playing time, and since he’s still relatively young Pierre-Louis might be one of the first guys the Bears go after.
Losing Freeman hurts purely from the standpoint of losing another player from an already thin unit. We never got to see the full scope of who he could be due to his injuries and suspensions. Instead guys like Kwiatkowski and whomever the Bears draft will get their shot to continue pushing a good, young unit forward.