The Bears will not exercise their fifth-year option on outside linebacker Shea McClellin, general manager Ryan Pace told reporters today (Twitter link via Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune). The decision means that McClellin will enter a contract year, and will be eligible to hit the open market in 2016.
McClellin was selected 19th overall by the Bears in the 2012 draft, and after playing sparingly in his rookie year, he earned 20 starts for the club over the past two seasons. However, the 24-year-old failed to have a real impact for the defense during that stretch, compiling a combined 66 tackles and five sacks in 2013 and 2014.
If the Bears had elected to pick up McClellin’s option for the 2016 season, it would have cost the team $7.751MM, though that salary is guaranteed for injury only until the start of the ’16 league year. New Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is transitioning the unit from a 4-3 to a 3-4 in 2015, so given McClellin’s underwhelming play to date, and potential concerns about his fit in the new system, it makes sense that the new coaching staff would decide to pass on the option.
Of course, it’s possible that switching to the 3-4 will actually help McClellin, but if that’s the case, the Bears should still have the opportunity to negotiate a new deal with him next winter before he reaches the free agent market, likely at a rate far below $7.75MM.
Here are a few more Bears notes:
- West Virginia wideout Kevin White said today that he believes he’ll be the Bears’ choice if he’s still on the board at No. 7, per Around the NFL (Twitter link). Receiver is an area of need for Chicago after the team traded Brandon Marshall, but it wouldn’t be surprising if the club opted for a defender instead.
- According to Pace, the team has identified seven players as targets for the No. 7 pick, so at least one of them will be available if the club doesn’t move up or down (Twitter link via Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times).
- Pace had fielded calls for that seventh overall pick, tweets Jahns. The GM hasn’t ruled out the possibility of trading up from No. 7, but would be mindful of the cost and proceed with caution in that scenario (Twitter link via Jahns).
- According to Jahns (via Twitter), Pace’s big board features 170 prospects.