Bears part with two respected vets: Matt Slauson and Antrel Rolle
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One day after adding the last of nine impressionable draft picks, the Bears released two of their most-respected veterans Sunday: guard Matt Slauson and safety Antrel Rolle.
The likelihood of Slauson’s departure skyrocketed Friday, when the Bears drafted Kansas State guard Cody Whitehair, who is coveted for his athleticism and versatility, in the second round. On the last two days of March, they signed veteran interior linemen Manny Ramirez and Ted Larsen to one-year contracts.
Still, cutting the 30-year-old — who started 33 games at left guard and four at center in three seasons — will reverberate throughout the offensive line room.
Slauson was a steady player and steadying presence, and had two years left on his contract.
“Thanks for taking me under your wing,” three-time Pro Bowler Kyle Long wrote on Instagram. “I will carry the flag for you, brother. You were hard on me when I needed it, and supported me when I didn’t think I could do it. Tough to see you go my friend.”
Also on Instagram, Slauson thanked the Bears and their fans.
“It wasn’t easy cleaning out my locker,” he wrote, “but I am thankful for the last few years wearing the blue and orange.”
Phil Emery signed Slauson to a one-year deal in 2013 and gave him a four-year, $12.8 million extension after the season. The Bears will save $2.57 million against the cap in 2016.
Rolle was limited to seven games in his only Bears season because of ankle and knee sprains. The Bears drafted two safeties Saturday: Miami’s Deon Bush in Round 4 and William & Mary’s DeAndre Houston-Carson in Round 6.
The Bears paid all $4.9 million of their guarantees to Rolle last season after signing him to a three-year, $11.25 million contract. GM Ryan Pace said in March that injuries made it hard to evaluate Rolle’s season.
Cutting both now allows the Bears to add more undrafted free agents to the 90-man roster. The team is expected to announce those additions Monday.
“We thank Matt and Antrel for the dedication and leadership they brought to our organization,” Pace said in a statement. “Both men did everything we asked of them. Part of growing as a team is making difficult decisions like the ones we made today. We never take them lightly given the respect we have for everyone who has put on a Bears uniform. We wish each of them the very best as they move forward.”