Harris and Hillenmeyer Headline Bears Cuts


The Bears made a couple of roster moves on Monday, cutting a couple of former defensive starters in Tommie Harris and Hunter Hillenmeyer.  Swing tackle Kevin Shaffer was also let go.

Tommie Harris is probably the biggest name in the group, another former Jerry Angelo first round draft choice who failed to live up to expectations.  Here’s the excerpt from the Bears’ official website:

"Harris spent seven seasons with the Bears after being selected with the 14th overall pick in the 2004 draft. The 6-3, 295-pounder from Oklahoma became the first defensive tackle in franchise history to be voted to three straight Pro Bowls, but his career was slowed by injuries.Harris appeared in 104 games with 90 starts, recording 286 tackles, 28½ sacks, one interception, six forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries and 38 tackles-for-loss. He was the Bears’ first draft pick after Lovie Smith was hired as head coach."

Harris started off his Bears career as a dominant 3-technique defensive tackle who disrupted the pocket and created pressure up the middle a la Warren Sapp in Lovie’s Cover-2 defense.  After suffering a pretty serious leg injury partway through the 2006 Super Bowl run, Harris has never been the same.

Despite the injury and drop in production, Harris signed a contract extension following the 2007 season that included $17 million guaranteed, the highest for a DT at the time.  Harris went on to get benched by Lovie Smith after 2 games in the 2010 season and then get kicked out of another game for starting a fight in the first series against the Arizona Cardinals.   Harris had been supplanted in the starting lineup by less heralded guys like Anthony Adams and Matt Toeaina.

Hunter Hillenmeyer is another former defensive starter to depart.  I had a pretty good idea his days with the Bears were over when they IR’ed him during the preseason after suffering another concussion.   What was once the Bears’ deepest position is now an area of concern.  I wonder if this moves means the Bears are confident they can re-sign Pisa Tinoisamoa, who is an unrestricted free agent.

Kevin Shaffer was a swing tackle who unsuccessfully tried to fill a void a right tackle but when 7th round pick J’Marcus Webb passed him, you had to think his future with the Bears was bleak.

What do you think?  Good move letting these guys go?  Are you surprised?  Does this change how the Bears go about their draft preparations?  Speak up in the Comment!