The Chicago Bears have a lot of available cap space for this offseason, and they plan to have even more after some cuts. It seems obvious that guys like Mike Glennon, Marcus Cooper, and Pernell McPhee will be cut. There are a few names on the fence right now.
One guy coming up in a number of discussions is offensive lineman Josh Sitton. The veteran guard signed a three-year, $21 million deal before the 2016 season. After eight seasons in Green Bay and two with the Bears, the third and final year of his deal in Chicago is an $8 million team option. The Bears have until March 9th to decide if they want to pick up the option or move on.
Which option seems more likely? Right now it feels up in the air. It is going to be a busy offseason for GM Ryan Pace and one area of focus is the offensive line. Sitton for a number of years has been one of the better offensive linemen in the NFL, being named a pro bowler four times in his career. There was even some surprise by football writers and fans when the Packers let Sitton walk after 2015.
The problem is, he is old. He did not play with the Bears until he hit the 30 mark and will be 32 when the 2018 regular season starts. Last year he was active in 13 games as he spent time at left guard, right guard, and right tackle. Watching him in 2017 showed his play decline a bit, not dramatically terrible, but clearly not the same as his prime years. There were even talks about trading Sitton before the deadline but no reports of teams having any interest in him surfaced.
If he was to be picked up by the Bears, he would be making $7.4 million with roughly $500,000 worth of bonuses on top of it. It would be around an $8.6 million cap hit. Considering the Bears have a lot of space regardless, picking up his options would certainly not put a huge damper on things. However, with a good number of talented lineman in the draft, Pace may want to make way for young blood. With Kyle Long’s injury issues and Sitton’s age, the line is a top priority to fix.
In the end, it would not be very surprising if Sitton was let go before the March 9th deadline. His value just is not the same as it was when he was younger. Going off football reference, Sitton’s AV (Approximate Value) as a Bear is a total of 11 in two years. From 2011-2015, he averaged an AV of roughly 13 per season.
Sitton did some solid work on the Bears line the past two years, but the tank seems almost empty.