Bears general manager Phil Emery said the emergence of reserve offensive tackle Jonathan Scott as a swing tackle and roster concerns at other positions were among the key factors that led to the Bears releasing former first-round draft pick Chris Williams this week.
That the Bears cut Williams wasn’t a big surprise, the timing of the move seemed a little curious. The Bears did not replace Williams on the roster with an offensive lineman. Unless he was affecting locker room chemistry, why was there no room for a player with Williams’ versatility and experience?
”There are a lot of dynamics involved,” Emery told WBBM-AM’s Jeff Joniak on the Bears’ pre-game show Monday night. ”You’ve got to look at your whole roster, decide who is that 49th or 53rd player, their standing on the team; the depth behind it; how it affects your locker room chemistry; how you’re going to be moving forward; and the player you’re bringing in. There’s a lot that goes into it.”
The Bears had nine offensive linemen on their roster, one more than they carried at this time last year. So there was room to make a move with regard to numbers. The Bears signed cornerback Zack Bowman to replace Williams on the roster. He’ll already come in handy on special teams with Sherrick McManis out for Monday night’s game against the Lions with a hip injury.
The Bears also added a tight end, Brody Eldridge — a move that seems like a luxury. The Bears already have three tight ends on the roster and rookie Evan Rodriguez, a converted tight end playing fullback. Emery said Eldridge was brought in ”just to push the competitiveness of our [tight end] group, to try and improve our roster and see how it all shakes out.” Based on that there was room to keep Williams if he had any value to the team at all.
”The key to be able to [cut] Chris Williams is we brought in Jon Scott [a former starter with the Steelers], a player we like very much,” Emery said. ”It took him a couple of weeks to [learn] our system. We liked what we saw in practice. And there is the added element that he’s a legitimate backup long-snapper.
”[With Scott] we felt like we had a viable candidate at swing tackle — that was Chris’ current role. And we have good depth at guard and a couple of good tackles on our practice squad.”