Chopping Block: Who Will Be Next?

The Chicago Bears began the process of trimming down the roster this week, most notably closing the book on Adam Archuleta. Babatunde Oshinowo and Mike Jones were also released. Who could be next on the chopping block? Bear Report combs over the names and makes some educated guesses.

Terrence Metcalf
The Monsters of the Midway weren't so scary on offense in 2007, primarily because the offensive line went from "experienced" to "old" seemingly overnight and couldn't hold up anymore. Nine-time Pro Bowler Ruben Brown battled a nagging shoulder ailment before being moved to injured reserve, and Metcalf was a disaster filling in for him at left guard for five games in the season's second half. Metcalf was so bad that he ultimately had to be replaced by John St. Clair, who had primarily been a backup tackle in his career, to finish out the schedule.

Left guard is still a question mark for this team because Angelo did not sign a free agent capable of plugging that hole, but Metcalf could still be shown the door if `06 sixth-rounder Tyler Reed, `07 fourth-rounder Josh Beekman, or `08 seventh-rounder Chester Adams shows any upside in training camp.

Ricky Manning Jr.


CB Ricky Manning Jr.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Manning was one of the unheralded stars of a defense that led the Bears to the Super Bowl in 2006, excelling as the nickel cornerback both in coverage and in blitz packages. But he struggled mightily each of the last two years when asked to sub for either Charles Tillman or Nathan Vasher in the starting lineup, as the team instantly became vulnerable through the air. Linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer was on the field more than ever on passing downs last season, further proof that Manning has fallen out of favor.

Both Trumaine McBride and Corey Graham made an impact as rookies this past season and should only get better in the future, plus last month's fifth-round draft pick, Zack Bowman, has a ton of talent and just needs to get fully healthy.

Mike Hass
Hass was one of the surprise stars of training camp last year, catching everything in sight and forcing the coaching staff to keep six wide receivers on the final 53-man roster. But despite his breakout performance at Olivet Nazarene University, he could not work his way into the rotation during the regular season and was active on game day just once. Free-agent signees Marty Booker and Brandon Lloyd aren't as good as departed starters Bernard Berrian and Muhsin Muhammad, but third-rounder Earl Bennett and seventh-rounder Marcus Monk both have more upside than Hass at this point.

It's a mystery why Hass didn't get a chance when it counted, because the wideouts in front of him on the depth chart were far from stellar.

Dan Bazuin


DE Dan Bazuin
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The Bears had the luxury of just taking the best player available at each pick in the 2007 draft because they didn't have any serious needs to fill coming off Super Bowl XLI, but the selection of Bazuin in Round 2 still raised a lot of eyebrows. The team appeared to be set at both defensive end spots, with veterans Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye still getting the job done and youngster Mark Anderson putting together a 12-sack season as a pass-rushing specialist. Bazuin struggled with a bum knee throughout the offseason program and training camp, eventually being moved to IR and missing his rookie campaign entirely.

Bazuin didn't look especially good in Bourbonnais the few times he was actually on the practice field, plus seventh-round draft pick Ervin Baldwin has a lot of raw ability and repeatedly impressed team scouts on tape leading up to the draft.

Cedric Benson
Even before the alleged drunken boating indicent this past weekend back in Texas, Benson was on thin ice with the organization and possibly on his way out the door. General manager Jerry Angelo expressed extreme disappointment with the team's ground attack last year, and he pointed his finger directly at the running backs even though he didn't necessarily mention Benson by name. With the choice of Matt Forte from Tulane in the second round of the draft, Angelo officially put Benson on notice that his one-year stint as the featured back in Chicago was over.

Cutting Benson would mean a nasty $5.15 million hit against the salary cap, but the team would be able to spread that cap hit over two years if it waits until June 1 to jettison the disappointing first-rounder.

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.

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