The Chicago Bears have been making moves all off-season to help strengthen their core for this upcoming season and beyond.
GM Phil Emery made two very tough moves this week. He decided to cut ties with former first-round pick Gabe Carimi, who was part of the last draft class selected by former GM Jerry Angelo.
Emery also released FB/TE Evan Rodriguez, who was selected in the fourth round in 2012.
Carimi was traded on Sunday for a sixth-round pick in next year’s draft. He started 16 games in his two seasons in the Windy City. He started the first two games of the 2011 at right tackle, but suffered a season-ending knee injury which required multiple surgeries on his right knee.
At 6’7″, it appeared as if the “Bear Jew” had the potential to be a solid tackle for years to come in Chicago. He started 49 of 52 games at the University of Wisconsin where he won the Outland Trophy (Offensive Lineman of the Year).
He stayed healthy last season, but was benched in favor of veteran Jonathan Scott after a Week 11 blowout loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football. He regained a spot in the lineup at right guard after Lance Louis and Chris Spencer both were banged up.
He started the final four games at right guard. He is set to earn a base salary of just over $1 million over the next two seasons in Tampa Bay.
Emery was clearly looking to free up some cap space by cutting ties with a player he didn’t draft and someone who has been up-and-down in his short tenure. When Carimi decided to train in Arizona instead of participating in OTA’s last month it was clear that his time in Chicago was nearing the end.
He always had the potential to be a solid offensive lineman, but he hasn’t made the most of his opportunities just yet. He eventually could be that player.
He reminds me of Marc Colombo, a guy the Bears let go and turned into a solid offensive lineman later in his career.
The other player the Bears cut ties with this week was second-year pro Evan Rodriguez, who Emery selected in the fourth round of last year’s draft.
Rodriguez was arrested twice this off-season. The first time was in March in Miami Beach, Fla when he was booked for resisting an officer without violence and disorderly intoxication. He was then arrested on May 31 for driving under the influence in Chicago.
The 24-year-old Temple product started five games at fullback in his rookie season reeling in four catches for 21 yards. Standing at 6’2″, he was set to take on a hybrid role at fullback and tight end this upcoming season. The Bears had a plan in mind for him in 2013, but his recent legal problems took a toll on his chances to stick with the team.
“Evan is a very likeable guy,” Phil Emery said Tuesday via ESPNChicago.com. “We have talked. Disappointed. I would use the word extremely. And we’ll leave it at that.”
I had the chance to catch up with Rodriguez just after the draft last year and he talked about what he would bring to the table in terms of off the field personality.
“I feel I’m a good guy and humble,” Rodriguez said May 7, 2012. “I get along with people and at the end of the day, when I am on the field it is all business. I am very coachable and I like to be coached hard.”
In the end Emery made two tough decisions this week. Both Carimi and Rodriguez were players that were expected to be starters on this team for years to come. Unfortunately it didn’t work out so well for either player. But if they make the most of their next opportunity in the NFL they could easily succeed.
Veteran fullback Tony Fiammetta was signed to a one-year deal as well as receivers Devin Aromashodu and Jerrell Jackson. Fiammetta should be able to earn the starting fullback gig.
Aromashodu returns to the Bears after spending the past two seasons with the Vikings. He should be considered a long shot to make the 53-man roster.
Ellis Strengthens DT Rotation
The Bears announced the signing of defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis on Tuesday to a one-year deal. The 27-year-old was the seventh overall pick by the New Orleans Saints in the 2008 NFL Draft.
He started 70 games in five seasons in New Orleans racking up 12.5 sacks, 174 tackles, 13 pass deflections, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
He strengthens the depth at defensive tackle which currently has Henry Melton and Stephen Paea penciled in as the starters with Nate Collins serving as the top reserve.