Moving on but never forgetting ...
Earlier Monday, you probably heard the news that the Chicago Bears were planning to release tailback Chester Taylor. Agent Ken Sarnoff, in fact, tweeted that coach Lovie Smith had informed Taylor of the news.
But Taylor wasn't among the five players the Bears waived.
The Bears then informed Sarnoff that Taylor had not been released and was expected at practice. He has since been sent home for the day.
So what in the name of Larry, Moe and Curly is going on here? I think we can draw a few conclusions.
One way or another, Taylor isn't going to be a part of the Bears' offense this season. Veteran Marion Barber, assuming he recovers from a strained calf muscle, is the Bears' No. 2 tailback behind Matt Forte.
It might be a long shot, but it makes sense for the Bears to hold on to Taylor until they can at least determine whether any NFL team is willing to trade for him. His $1.25 million salary for 2010 is hardly prohibitive.
As a players’ coach, Smith probably was doing his best to level with Taylor as soon as possible. What Smith said and what Taylor heard might not be the same. In fact, Smith told reporters that he told Taylor that he wasn't in the team's plans for its preseason finale Thursday -- but nothing beyond that.
The Bears obviously weren't anywhere close to as happy with Taylor's 2010 debut as they pretended to be. Although offensive coordinator Mike Martz has sung his praises, the reality is Taylor produced the lowest per-carry average (2.4 yards) of any post-merger NFL running back who had at least 100 carries. He was not a good fit last season.
No NFL team runs perfectly, and it's often easy from the outside to make fun of mistakes that occur in the fast-paced world of roster management. That said, the Bears have had enough stumbles over the years to feed a perception they have a disorganized front office. Some of the mistakes have been harmful and have led to the departure of players they wanted to keep, including receiver D'Wayne Bates. Others, like the botched draft-day trade this spring with the Baltimore Ravens, were simply embarrassing. The latest episode likely eliminated any possibility of getting an asset in return for Taylor and won't inspire confidence among other players that they can believe what the team tells them.
No owner likes to see money wasted, and general manager Jerry Angelo will have to answer for the $7 million in compensation the Bears gave Taylor as well as the $6 million-plus they gave since-departed tight end Brandon Manumaleuna in March 2010. Even Monday's moves included an unforgivable financial faux pas: giving draft bust Vernon Gholston a $250,000 signing bonus for what amounted to a preseason look-see. Gholston was waived Monday.
Curly would suggest the Bears are just a victim of "soycamstance." (Oh, you're a wise guy, eh?) I think they've gotten too cute. Taylor's future has been clear from the moment Barber arrived. Why keep three veteran running backs on your roster, especially when the third proved to be a poor fit last season? And if they're worried about Barber's calf strain, do they really think Taylor could be better than he was last season? It's laughable. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.