Case for Keeping McQuarters

It's no secret the Bears have depth at cornerback, which has led to speculation that R.W. McQuarters could become a salary cap casualty. However, can the defense afford to go into 2005 without the versatile performer?

In the pass happy state of the NFL you can never have enough cornerbacks, so why would the Bears consider cutting McQuarters?

The reason to cut McQuarters is his $4.25 million salary cap figure this year, which is a good number for a starter, let alone possibly the fourth cornerback on the depth chart.

At this point Charles Tillman and Jerry Azumah are the projected starters with Nathan Vasher as the nickel back. A good training camp could move Vasher into a starting role because of his ability to go after the ball.

Despite being on the field for a limited number of plays, Vasher led the team with five interceptions as a rookie.

Injuries forced Tillman to miss half of the season and when he was on the field he didn't look like the same player that ripped the ball away from Randy Moss.

Azumah also missed time to injury, but still finished the year with four interceptions. He will be the only defensive starter to become an unrestricted free agent following the '05 campaign.

Inking Azumah to a multiyear extension will be pricey; he's a starting cornerback that is also a Pro Bowl kick returner.

Keeping McQuarters on the roster would allow him to become the nickel back next season if Azumah goes elsewhere. Cutting McQuarters now forces the Bears hand to re-sign Azumah at his price.

In the meantime, McQuarters is one of the best punt returners in the NFL and is a luxury to be used as a fourth corner. He also proved last year he can play free safety.

The Bears have decided to flip their starting safeties. Mike Brown will go from strong to free safety, while Mike Green will be given a chance to play center field.

Green has never been the type to make plays on the ball. With Brown on the strong side, it could give McQuarters an opportunity to become a fulltime free safety.

Last year, the Bears saw what injuries can do to the depth of a team. If Tillman, Azumah or Vasher go down, the next best alternative to fill in could be shifting Green to corner.

Aside from that, Alfonso Marshall and Todd McMillon are currently the top options on the depth chart.

If the Bears needed cap room to make a splash in the free agency after June 1st then letting McQuarters go would make more sense.

While adding another linebacker is on the radar screen, no player the Bears are interested in will be given a big money deal.


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