Raw Deal?

With Marc Edwards as his lead blocker, Thomas Jones was off to the best start of his career. However, the duo has been broken up after Edwards was released in what is a puzzling move.

The old adage goes ‘if it isn't broke don't fix it.'

Jones averaged 101.9 yards per game with Edwards as the only fullback on the roster opening holes for him through seven games.

Bryan Johnson was activated less than 24 hours before the Bears played the Saints and shared the blocking duties with Edwards. Despite Jones leaving the game after a half with sore ribs, the offense rushed for 183 yards.

Edwards and Johnson are very similar players with a few key differences. Johnson is younger, makes more money and is a special teams contributor.

In fact, Johnson is one of the higher paid fullbacks in the league this year, with a base salary of $1.07 million.

Jason McKie is a more athletic fullback that will now backup Johnson for the remainder of the year.

Fullback is usually a position that doesn't garner a lot of attention. In this case the Bears will not see their season take a dramatic turn for the worse because they cut Edwards in favor of McKie.

However, the Bears began the season with three players on the roster that had Super Bowl rings. They're now down to just Fred Miller after releasing Doug Brien and Edwards.

No case can be made to keep a player on the roster for playoff experience if they aren't performing, but Edwards did everything the Bears asked.

The nine-year veteran signed with the team on the eve of training camp. He worked through a hamstring injury in Bourbonnais and quickly earned the starting job.

Johnson and McKie combined for 27 receptions for 125 yards last year and each had two TD receptions, which tied for the team lead. Edwards equaled the scoring output in half a season on 10 catches for 66 yards.

If it were a choice between keeping McKie or Edwards for the long haul then this would be the right move. But just for this season, McKie could have been placed on injured reserve and brought back next year. While Edwards is toward the end of his career, he has showed no signs of slowing down at 31.

In what seems like a small roster move to most, could be the latest decision to potentially wear on the team's reputation. Some questioned the timing of Marc Colombo's release. Instead of cutting him in training camp or before the 53-man roster was set, Colombo was let go a week into the season.

Granted, because of injury, Colombo will never be the player the Bears drafted with the 29th overall pick in 2002. Still he battled back from a severe knee injury and two years of rehabilitation to play again.

Cutting him wouldn't have looked nearly as bad if it had been done in the off-season, when he would have had time to catch on with another club. He has since landed with the Cowboys, but the Bears knew what he was capable of and didn't arrive at some overnight revelation about his future.

While John St. Clair started a game at left tackle, he's not a major upgrade over the current backups. There's a reason he's been with three teams in the last three years.

Days after rewarding special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo with a two-year contract extension for doing what was asked of him, Edwards got the ax for doing the same thing.

Obviously this is a business and the team has to do what it sees fit to succeed. Conversely this is also why bigger name players holdout and ask to renegotiate their deals. Nothing is guaranteed to the player. The superstar has some leverage, while the bulk of the 53-man roster is left hoping for the best.


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