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Chicago Bears: GM Jerry Angelo Messes Up Again—What Else Is New?

Tommie Harris was not the most productive Bear, but his release by Jerry Angelo creates another need for the Bears to address.
Tommie Harris was not the most productive Bear, but his release by Jerry Angelo creates another need for the Bears to address.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Nicholas FischContributor IFebruary 28, 2011

Three days after re-signing head coach Lovie Smith, the Bears release three veterans—Hunter Hillenmeyer, Kevin Shaffer and Tommie Harris.

I'm giving Angelo credit here, he is saving $9 million by releasing these three veterans, who were backups or special-teamers. The money he freed up with these moves will be used in free agency to address a host of needs when a new CBA is agreed upon.

Though Angelo is saving $9 million, he probably still has to pay these players something to stay away from Halas Hall, which is something that I don't agree with in most circumstances.

Especially with the Bears' pressing needs at the defensive tackle and offensive tackle positions.

The thing that upsets me the most about the move is that Harris' release leaves the Bears with only two defensive tackles on their roster—Matt Toeaina and Marcus Harrison.

Angelo believes in re-signing his own players first, and Harris' contract was under a microscope by many fans and the Chicago media.

Harris signed a four-year, $40 million contract extension in 2008, after making the Pro Bowl in 2006 and 2007. However, Harris had personal issues and could not stay healthy during that contract extension.

It was the highest contract for a defensive tackle, until Albert Haynesworth signed with the Redskins in 2009.

They also have Henry Melton and Corey Wooton, both of whom log time at the end positions as well. Anthony Adams is a free agent that will likely be re-signed.

Releasing Harris right now makes absolutely no sense.

However, the Bears' biggest need is offensive line help, and now the Bears need more depth at the position with the release of Shaffer.

I'm not sure why Shaffer was behind Frank Omiyale on the Bears depth chart for the two seasons he was with the Bears. I thought Shaffer would have been better than Omiyale at either tackle position, or at guard, where Omiyale spent his time last season.

Shaffer will find work with another team, and have a chance to compete for a starting job.

Hillenmeyer was place on injured reserve in the preseason after sustaining a concussion. He has met with doctors and said that no doctor wants him to play football ever again.

He was a solid starter, backup and special teams player, and was acquired in a trade from the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers in 2003.

He was the assistant NFLPA Bears representative along with Robbie Gould.

Angelo's moves today may save enough money to sign a top free agent whenever free agency is held. Right now, I am questioning why Angelo decided to release these players now—especially when Harris was one of only three true defensive tackles on the Bears roster.

Again, another bone-headed move by Angelo, his retirement from the Bears cannot come soon enough.

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