The roster of the Chicago Bears currently stands at 74 players. By tomorrow evening at 8 p.m. CDT, the team will have to pare the roster down to the final 53. That means 21 players who will soon be getting their pink slips.
Here are five established veterans that could be one of those players cut tomorrow night.
QB Josh McCown
McCown solidified himself as a quality backup last season, guiding the Bears to a 1-2 victory in his two starts to finish the campaign. Yet GM Phil Emery took care of the backup quarterback position this offseason by signing Jason Campbell, a player with 70 starts under his belt.
NFL clubs no longer have to keep three quarterbacks, and even when they do, the third signal caller is usually a young, developmental player. The Bears just cut their developmental guy in Matt Blanchard, who already got a try out by the Miami Dolphins. With both Jay Cutler and Campbell healthy, the need for the 33-year-old McCown is minimal.
CB Jonathan Wilhite
The Bears signed Wilhite to a one-year deal this offseason. He previously was a nickel corner with both the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos. Yet he has taken only a handful of snaps in the slot this offseason, where D.J. Moore is firmly entrenched. Instead, he's battling it out with rookies Isaiah Frey and Greg McCoy for the club's fifth cornerback spot.
While neither rookie has shown all that much in the preseason, Frey has flashed some potential. Wilhite, on the other hand, has done nothing so far except pick up a pass interference call last week. The Bears may see more potential in the younger Frey, making Wilhite expendable.
TE Matt Spaeth
The Bears have four quality tight ends on the roster but may only have room to keep three. While Spaeth is an established veteran, he's limited as a pass catcher and inconsistent as a blocker. Kellen Davis is set as the starter, while both Kyle Adams and Evan Rodriguez have showed well in the F-back role. All three have earned a roster spot in my opinion.
That leaves Spaeth, a backup that is set to make $2 million this season. With injuries piling up at safety, the Bears might be better served trying to find a veteran that can shore up the defensive secondary.
DT Matt Toeaina
Toeaina is a feel-good story, a player snatched off Cincinnati's practice squad in 2007 that eventually earned a starting role. Yet despite his strength and run-stopping ability, he's never truly stood out. He's not a bad player, just an average one. During training camp, second-year player Stephen Paea beat him out for the starting nose tackle gig.
The Bears have also found two quality defensive tackles in Nate Collins and Brian Price, both of whom can play the nose. Toeaina will cost $1.38 million against the cap in 2012. If the team feels Paea will be fully recovered from his ankle injury by Week 1, there may be no need for Toeaina any longer.
P Adam Podlesh
This is an unfortunate injury situation. Podlesh suffered a hip flexor in the third preseason game. Even though it's his non-kicking hip, the team has expressed serious concern over the injury. Podlesh said this week there is no timetable for his return.
If he is expected to miss a significant chunk of the regular season, it makes no sense to clog up the roster with two punters, no matter how good Podlesh is. Ryan Quigley punted well in the third preseason game and the team tried out Spencer Lanning yesterday. This shows the club isn't confident in Podlesh's ability to get back on the field in a timely manner, which could lead to him being waived.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.