The Bears Cutting Josh Sitton wasn’t a big surprise and was absolutely the right move. Sitton is still a good player and a great teammate but he isn’t a pro bowler anymore. On top of that, he is coming off a season where he suffered a lot of injuries and ultimately had to go on the injured Reserve list to end his season and ultimately his Bears career. He is also 33 which in the NFL means you’re nearing the end. Especially as an interior player that takes a lot of punishment on the body. There’s another interior player who kind of fits the description of Sitton albeit a bit younger that the Bears should cut. This won’t be a popular choice, but games in the NFL aren’t won making decisions that are always popular. That name would be fan and Bears teammates favorite Kyle Long.
Do the Bears take his standing with the team under consideration over the 4 Million they’d save on the cap? Possibly. It wouldn’t be a totally unreasonable decision to keep him as a leader and keep some continuity on the offensive line where continuity is so important to the performance of an offensive line. When he does play the Bears line performs noticeably better. However, it’s the when part that needs examining. His availability has not been really good. He’s in and out of the lineup a lot especially lately in his career. It’s not exactly a secret that the Bears have struggled with availability issues in recent years.
The Bears need to find players who will be in the lineup. There’s been way too much unreliability in that aspect of the team and probably the biggest reason they have been picking in the top ten the last 4 seasons albeit trading up 2 slots from 11 to 9 to get Leonard Floyd. However, the point still remains. It’s highly unlikely Long’s availability improves approaching 30 while coming off four surgeries in the last two seasons. Not to mention he hasn’t had proper weight training to perform to the best of his ability the last two seasons as he has been doing rehab. That alone figures to diminish his performance on the field.
The 4 Million they’d save is not really the incentive here. It’s the fact they need to have all 5 linemen in the lineup at the same time to maximize their performance. That won’t happen when having to move guys around all the time like they had to do last season. The Bears also have a lot of options. Both Jordan Morgan and Eric Kush are on the roster and poised to start at any one of the Guard positions. Tom Compton also played well when at Guard and could be resigned to compete as a starter or play the swing Guard role. They can also sign Zach Fulton who played in Nagy’s system last season in Kansas City and can play either Guard or move to Center where the Bears can slide Cody Whitehair to one of the Guard spots. This draft is also filled with excellent interior linemen at both Center and Guard to fill in and start right away.
In my opinion, it’s time to make the hard decision. The NFL is not a kind-hearted business. There’s a reason why people refer to it as the, Not For Long league. If winning is the number one goal these types of moves have to be made. Even with a fixture such as Long. I see only decline in his career at this point. It’s either this move or move him back to Right Tackle where he thrived until he hurt his back which is the performances people remember not the games were he shut down Three of the leagues best pass rushers in Kahlil Mack, Von Miller, and Tamba Hali. Maybe at Tackle, he can play a more finesse game rather than having to brawl with massive Defensive Tackles and 3/4 Ends and keep him healthier where he can use his freak athleticism and length instead of his strength.
Either way, you slice it the Bears need to have their important players on the field or off the roster. No matter who the player is or how loved they are. In the end, it’s about the Chicago Bears not any one player and every move whether popular or unpopular, or easy or hard should be with only one thing in mind. Winning Divisions, making the playoffs and competing for titles year in and year out and reestablishing the charter franchise as one of the most visible and respected in the league they built.