Bears decide to part ways with four-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman Josh Sitton
The crop of free agent offensive linemen just got better
According to NFL.com, Sitton was informed by the team on Tuesday that they won't be picking up his $8 million option for the 2018 season. Over the past two seasons, Sitton played in 26 of a possible 32 regular-season games for Chicago, a total that included 25 starts.
Although the Bears will be saving some serious cap money by not paying Sitton $8 million, the downside for them is that they'll be losing a four-time Pro Bowler who's been one of the best guards in the NFL over the past few seasons.
As a matter of fact, according to numbers from Pro Football Focus, Sitton graded out as the fifth-best offensive guard in the NFL in 2017. Cutting a quality player to save money can make some sense, but in the Bears' case, they don't have a lot of depth at the position, which is why their decision to get rid of Sitton is somewhat surprising.
The good news for Sitton is that he's almost certainly going to see a hefty payday when free agency opens on March 14. The veteran lineman told the Chicago Tribune that he has no plans to retire.
"I am planning on playing and hitting free agency and continuing to play at a high level," Sitton said. "I believe I have prime years left."
For Sitton, this is the second time since 2016 that he's going to get a chance to cash in on free agency. After spending his first eight NFL seasons with the Packers, Sitton was surprisingly released in September 2016, just days before the start of the regular season.
Once he became a free agent, the Bears quickly. This time around, Sitton could be getting an even bigger contract since he'll be one of the top linemen on the market.
As for the Bears, they'll now be looking to go younger at left guard, according to NFL.com. The problem for Chicago, though, is that there just aren't a lot of options out there for replacing Sitton. As we already mentioned, there's not a lot of guard talent in free agency and the Bears don't have a lot of depth on their roster, which means the draft will likely be the only place to turn to replace Sitton.
The Bears hold the eighth overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, and if they decide to take a guard, it would mark the second time in five years that they've selected one in the first round (Kyle Long, 2013). Unfortunately for Bears fans, none of our six NFL experts see that happening. All six of them have the Bears going with Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley in their mock drafts. You can see all six of those mocks by clicking here.
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