Here is the first in a 10-part series examining the top 10 players on the Chicago Bears' 2015 offseason roster.
Name: Tim Jennings
Experience: 10 years
2015 base salary: $4.4 million (fully guaranteed)
2014 recap: Following consecutive Pro Bowl seasons in 2012 and 2013 in which Jennings combined for 13 interceptions, the veteran cornerback's production dipped. Jennings failed to intercept a single pass and forced only one fumble in 16 regular-season games -- Jennings' lowest turnover output since 2007. The 5-foot-8 cornerback remained a reliable tackler (66 stops), but his inability to make any game-changing plays hurt the Bears' inept defense. Some of Jennings' struggles can be attributed to the play of the Bears' woeful defensive line last season -- a group that failed to provide much pass-rush outside of defensive end Willie Young (10.0 sacks). Jennings needs to shoulder the majority of the blame however, especially after the organization rewarded him with a hefty contract extension prior to the 2014 campaign.
2015 outlook: Former Bears general manager Phil Emery signed Jennings to a four-year, $22.4 million contract with $11.8 million guaranteed on Jan. 2, 2014. Translation: Jennings isn’t going anywhere this year. However, Jennings needs a bounce-back season to ensure he's in the club's plans beyond 2015. One positive is that Jennings has the necessary experience to play inside and cover the slot in the nickel sub-package, if necessary. That versatility only enhances Jennings' value to the coaching staff. But at 31 years old, Jennings' long-term prognosis in Chicago is murky. NFL teams prefer taller cornerbacks. Jennings stands only 5-8. So far, the 10-year veteran has enjoyed an ultra-successful career despite the height limitation. But how much longer can that continue? Jennings is projected to start in the team’s new 3-4 defense, but nothing is assured with the Bears beyond the fall.