Chicago Bears Release OT Jermon Bushrod
The Chicago Bears announced today that they have released veteran tackle Jermon Bushrod after he failed a team physical. Bushrod, signed before the 2013 season to a 5-year, $36 million deal, started for the Bears at left tackle since he arrived in Chicago. He lost his starting gig in week 4 of the 2015 season due to concussion issues.
The writing was on the wall for Bushrod’s release as his replacement, 2014 7th-round pick Charles Leno Jr, improved steadily throughout the season while Bushrod continued to struggle with concussion, back, and shoulder injuries the rest of the year. To Bushrod’s credit, Leno consistently mentioned him as a mentor and a huge factor in his learning of the left tackle position.
Bushrod was a quality starter at left tackle for the Bears for the first two plus years in Chicago and was considered a solid presence and leader in the locker room. Besides his injury issues, Bushrod’s $6.5 million cap number also played a part in his release. By cutting Bushrod, the Bears freed up $4.3 million in cap space for the 2016 season. I could see them using some of that extra space to upgrade at guard and adding healthier depth at tackle in free agency.
As for Bushrod, 31 years old, he claimed that he was healthy enough to play but admitted that his injuries were still a factor. In his words, “We have to get things better physically, and then we’ll worry about where we’re going to play next year”.
As usual Bushrod was classy about the release, thanking the Bears organization and fans while calling the 2015 Thanksgiving win over the Packers the highlight of his Bears career. Bushrod finished his statement with the following:
“I enjoyed my time here. I enjoyed my time with the coaches. I made some real friends on the team, some guys that I’m always going to be rooting for, always pushing for. Best of luck to the whole organization.”
While the releases of both Bushrod and Matt Forte may have made sense from a salary cap perspective, the Bears lost two locker room leaders in the last week and will need to find away to replace an underrated aspect of the game.