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If Chris Conte can't beat out new safety M.D. Jennings, the Bears might end up cutting their losses.
The initial reaction at the end of the season was that the Bears should cut their losses and get rid of the third-year safety, who struggled all season.
GM Phil Emery was a bit more thoughtful for a reason. As much as he struggled last season, Conte has talent and is capable of being a good safety.
There isn't a safety in the league who would have looked good with the Bears last season, but their flaws as a team exposed Conte's flaws as an individual. He isn't a particularly good tackler and often struggles when it comes to taking the right angles. He has exceptional speed and range but still thinks a tick slower than most safeties.
With a front seven that allowed running backs to burst into the secondary regularly and struggled to rush the passer, Conte's flaws were under a magnifying glass.
His flaws looked quite huge last year. The Bears needed someone to make plays, and instead, too often plays were made at his expense.
He's capable of being better, but potential is dangerous, and the Bears can't wait for him to realize his. Jennings is a similar player, as both have the talent to be starting safeties in the league but just didn't perform that way last year.
What will hurt Conte's cause even more is that his playing time triggered a performance escalator in his contract. According to Over the Cap, he will now cost about $1.5 million against the cap, most of which they can salvage should they release him.
Conte could still have value to the team as a third safety, but Chicago may also be adding a player through the draft. If he can't beat out Jennings, his price tag could be too much for someone who may just be a special teamer.