The Chicago Bears have made it abundantly clear that they will select a running back at some point in the upcoming NFL Draft, so does this mean one of their current ball-carriers is on the chopping block?
Disappointing starter Cedric Benson is a former No. 4-overall draft pick and would cost the team $5.15 million against the salary cap if he were to be cut or traded, which means he's going nowhere. General manager Jerry Angelo reached for Garrett Wolfe in the third round just a year ago, and even though he rode the pine most of his rookie season until Benson got hurt in Week 12, he still has a chance to be a quality change-of-pace option. That leaves Adrian Peterson, the popular veteran backup and special-teams ace, who could be looking for work before too long.
RB Tashard Choice
John Bazemore/AP Images
Tashard Choice of Georgia Tech said Thursday on Sirius NFL Radio that the Bears are among eight ballclubs most interested in his services.
A highly competitive runner who plays a lot bigger than his size would indicate, Choice (5-10 1/2, 215) hits the hole hard and bounces off tacklers to pick up extra yards after contact. He knows how to make defenders miss and employs a solid stiff arm, plus he's shown soft hands catching the ball out of the backfield. He doesn't jump off the charts physically and lacks true home-run speed in the open field, but he runs with attitude and absolutely plowed Indiana cornerback Tracy Porter on game day at the Senior Bowl.
According to Choice, the other teams on his growing list of potential suitors are the Cardinals, Chargers, Cowboys, Falcons, Packers, Panthers, and Texans.
Peterson does not have any remaining signing-bonus money due on his contract, so releasing him wouldn't cost the franchise very much from a salary-cap perspective. The Georgia Southern alumnus did a good job in a secondary role through the first half of the 2007 season, but he struggled mightily in five games as the starter – just 3.2 yards per carry – after Benson was moved to injured reserve. And while Peterson is sensational on the coverage units, the fact that the Bears let two-time Pro Bowl special-teamer Brendon Ayanbadejo bolt for Baltimore indicates the organization values Dave Toub's system more than the individual players in it.
Angelo promised in his season-ending press conference that there would be more competition for carries in 2008, but Peterson simply isn't capable of providing the kind of competition needed to push Benson for the No. 1 job.
John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.