Bears release veteran safety Archuleta

In a surprising move, the Chicago Bears released safety Adam Archuleta, a little more than a year after they acquired him in a trade.

Bears coach Lovie Smith, who developed Archuleta into a defensive star in St. Louis, called Archuleta on Tuesday and told him he would be released. For Smith, the decision was a tough one. Being a fan of Archuleta, Smith was hoping to find a way to make it work this season for the veteran safety.

Craig Steltz, the Bears' fourth-round pick, looked good at the team's weekend minicamp and was the one of the main reasons for Archuleta's release. The Bears are deep at safety. Veteran free safety Mike Brown is back from injury. Safeties Brandon McGowan and Danieal Manning fit in well with the defense. Plus, the Bears also like Kevin Payne, a fifth-round pick from a year ago.

That left little opportunity for Archuleta, a 30-year-old former first-round pick of the Rams. Archuleta started 10 games last year and had 61 tackles.

John Clayton is a senior writer for ESPN.com.