Free agency kicks off in a little more than two weeks, so let’s count down the top 10 Chicago Bears’ players set on March 10 to hit the open market:
We’ll go in reverse order.
Here’s No. 9:
Danny McCray, safety
2014 pay: $796,538 ($730,000 base salary, $60,938 roster bonus, $5,600 workout bonus)
By the numbers: McCray played in 15 games for the Bears in 2014, contributing 19 tackles on defense and 10 stops on special teams. McCray participated in 16.1 percent of the team’s snaps on defense, but played on 274 of the club’s 435 snaps on special teams.
The case for keeping him: Former general manager Phil Emery gutted Chicago’s special-teams units, which resulted in one of the team’s worst performances in that facet of the game in recent history. McCray is a core special-teams player and one of the unit’s top players. McCray also adds value as a reserve safety and made 10 tackles in the team’s Sept. 22 victory over the New York Jets. McCray turns 27 in March and still appears to have some upside.
The case for letting him walk: McCray can come into the starting lineup in a pinch, but the Bears might be able to find a better player in free agency to serve as a backup on defense and as a top contributor on special teams.
Prediction: McCray might be one of the team’s best players on special teams, but on defense he’s been somewhat of a liability in coverage. McCray will be one of the late signings of free agency, and it's more than likely he won’t be signing with the Bears.
No: 10: Linebacker Darryl Sharpton.