Earl Watford released by Bears

(Photo: Joe Robbins, Getty)

The Chicago Bears have made a roster move, announcing on Sunday evening they have released veteran guard Earl Watford. The veteran offensive lineman signed with the team earlier this offseason. Throughout the last few months he had been working primarily with the second- and third-team offenses.

A fourth-round pick out of James Madison in 2013 by the Arizona Cardinals, Watford was a first-team All-CAA in 2011 and 2012 during his college career. Initially recruited as a defensive end, Watford made the switch to the offensive line. He started a total of 37 collegiate games. His scouting report for NFL.com emphasized his athleticism and solid play.

Athletically built interior player. Solid anchor in pass protection, plays with a wide base and has the feet to mirror his opponent. Packs a strong punch to knock back his man, but also takes a strong punch and holds his ground. Comes out of his stance quickly in the run game, uses strong hands and powerful extension to move opponents out of the hole and churns his feet to pancake defensive linemen when crashing down the line. Effective zone blocker because of his mobility and strength. Agile enough to move his feet to get the backside angle while engaged. Mobile behind the line of scrimmage, and displays the straight-line speed to reach targets and fits onto blocks near the line and at the second level. Will hit multiple targets in the open field. Solid in his cut blocks, makes it hard for tackles to recover. Solid anchor on special teams units. Plays with a nasty streak; brings any fight back to his opponent, and then some. Also hustles downfield to help running backs get an extra yard and is willing to clean up piles.

As a rookie he did not appear in any games for the Cardinals in 2013. The following year he saw action in 10 games, primarily as a special teams contributor. In 2015 he made the move from guard to tackle and appeared in eight games with a total of two starts before finishing the season on injured reserve with a hand injury. In 2016 he saw action in 15 games with ten starts before hitting free agency.

Last offseason he signed a two-year deal worth $6 million with $750,000 guaranteed and a signing bonus of $250,000 with the Jacksonville Jaguars. After he was unable to beat out A.J. Cann and Patrick Omameh for a starting job, he was released by the Jaguars before the start of the season. In early October he was signed by the Cardinals following an injury to fellow guard Mike Iupati. He finished the season with nine starts in 10 games.

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Watford was added to help give depth at the guard position for the Bears. With Kyle Long, Eric Kush, Cody Whitehair and James Daniels all locks to make the roster on the interior of the offensive line, Watford was facing an uphill battle this offseason to make the team.

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