Chopping Block

Whether it was Bryan Robinson, Phillip Daniels and Warrick Holdman last year or Jim Miller and James "Big Cat" Williams in 2002, the Bears seem to get rid of at least one established veteran each off-season. This time around will likely be no different.

Coach Lovie Smith defended the play of two controversial figures on the 2004 Bears, WR David Terrell and CB R.W. McQuarters.

"I don't know why their names would come up," Smith said. "David Terrell played hard each down, as far as I'm concerned. He showed up and practiced hard. R.W. played corner for us, played safety for us, he was a great return guy, and it is tough to ask a guy to move back to the safety position. He sacrificed for the team. The plan isn't to kick them out."

Their names come up frequently because the inconsistent Terrell has been a bust as a first-round pick (eighth overall), and at best is a No. 2 and ideally is a No. 3 receiver.

McQuarters will count $3.05 million against the salary cap next season and $3.45 the in 2006, which is high considering he's not expected to be a starter.

"If they can't afford me and things happen then we shake hands and we move on down the road and let bygones be bygones," McQuarters aid. "But as of right now I look forward to coming back next year and we'll see what happens."

McQuarters did, however, return one interception and one punt for touchdowns this season. He also started the final five games of the season at free safety. In the long run he's better suited to play corner because at 195-pounds he had problems wrapping up opposing receivers.

"I'm going back to corner, definitely," McQuarters said.

If McQuarters considers restructuring his current deal the team would be happy to have the depth at cornerback. There is a chance that McQuarters, who is only 28, could net the team a draft pick in a trade.

Rex Tucker is another name that could be mentioned as a salary cap casualty. He's finished the past last three seasons on IR, which the only reason the team would consider letting him go. This year, he rushed back from a dislocated elbow that he suffered in training camp and struggled in five starts. With leg injuries in the previous two seasons it would be risky to rely on Tucker to be a mainstay on an offensive line that allowed a franchise record 66 sacks.

The problem is Tucker's base salary. Over the next four years, he's due $1.9, $2.6, $3.15 and $3.3 million respectively. Deciding to let him go would save the team about $600,000 on next year's cap.


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