The Chicago Bears show their cards, one key player will not be back in 2024

One key decision shows why one key player will not be back in 2024.

Chicago Bears, Cody Whitehair
Chicago Bears, Cody Whitehair / Jonathan Daniel/GettyImages

The Chicago Bears are currently losing 14-10 as the game heads to halftime. The Bears came out strong on the opening drive and worked their way down the field for a strong touchdown. They haven't scored any points off of two interceptions and things haven't been as positive from a scoring standpoint since.

Before we get into the personnel decision that tells me everything I need to know about the future of one particular player on the Chicago Bears roster, I need to point out that the offensive line is set up in a combination Justin Fields hasn't had in front of him all season. In order from left tackle to right tackle, Braxton Jones, Teven Jenkins, Lucas Patrick, Nate Davis and Darnell Wright are the starters. One key player not starting is Cody Whitehair, who before this game, had 117 consecutive starts for the Chicago Bears.

Whitehair has been an average to slightly above-average offensive guard in the NFL for his career. He has experience at center as well -- including a Pro Bowl appearance at center in 2018. Now, he finds himself on the sideline with one year left on his deal. I thought he'd be a salary cap casualty this year, but Ryan Poles kept him around.

Early in the second quarter, the ground caused a fumble as Cole Kmet was fighting for a first down. It was clearly not a fumble and the refs blew the play dead. A few Lions players picked up the ball and ran it back as if it wasn't called dead. During that play, Lucas Patrick came to attempt a tackle but took a huge hit (that also should have been a penalty) after the play was technically over. Even if it was a live play, it could have been a penalty

Lucas Patrick ended up being fine, but it was a big hit that took him off the field for a couple of snaps. Rather than bring Cody Whitehair in to relieve him -- the guy who had seen starts at center and left guard this year, the Chicago Bears elected to play Dan Feeney instead. That move alone tells me that the Chicago Bears are moving on from Cody Whitehair for sure in 2024. Whitehair will make $13 million in 2024 if he sticks around. If Poles cuts him, they will only pay him $4 million next year and save $9 million in the process.

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Whitehair was a possible cap casualty this year. He has to be a guaranteed cap casualty in 2024.