More than Dollars & Cents

On the surface, R.W. McQuarters' hefty contract and reduced role equaled a salary cap casualty. While there's no doubt money was a major factor in the decision to release the veteran, did something else come into play?

Late in the 2004 campaign, the Bears were practicing in Walter Payton Center when McQuarters left practice and jogged back to Halas Hall.

A group of reporters saw McQuarters and wondered about the situation. Publicly he didn't have his pads during practice and Lovie Smith told him to leave, but there were rumblings that the two had words.

The Bears tried to downplay the situation, but there seemed to be an obvious rift between Smith and McQuarters.

If McQuarters had been a Pro Bowl caliber cornerback, Smith and the Bears would have been more likely to look the other way.

However, there were three players ahead of McQuarters on the depth chart and cutting him may save the Bears future headaches.

It immediately opens up about $600,000 in cap space and there already may be plans for the cash.

There are reports that L.J. Shelton is visiting Halas Hall today.

Before signing Fred Miller, GM Jerry Angelo explored trading for Shelton to fill the void at offensive tackle.

The Cardinals found themselves in a similar situation to that of the Bears with McQuarters. Shelton was granted permission to seek a trade, but there were no takers on the market.

The 29-year old veteran, who was cut last week by Arizona, was due $3 million over the next four years.

While the starters are set with Miller and John Tait, Shelton could provide depth at tackle and also compete for a spot on the interior of the offensive line.

Although the six-foot-6, 335-pounder has the size to play guard, he's never done it on the NFL level. There is a chance he could be thrown into the mix on the right side with Terrence Metcalf and Roberto Garza.

Shelton is also scheduled to visit with Kansas City, Jacksonville and Houston.

The 1999 first round pick has a reputation for having a below average work ethic, which got him in trouble with head Dennis Green.

A year ago, he was coming off ankle surgery and admittedly was not in the best of physical condition prior to training camp. Green wasted little time in demoting the then starting left tackle.

During the season, Shelton earned the starting right tackle position, only to have his season end early due to a knee injury.

Known as a better than average tackle, Shelton moved much better after having ankle surgery. The key to his game is strength and ability to control defenders with his long arms that allow him to seal, block-down, and contain in run support.


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