NFC Notes: Bears, Galette, Cards, Hester

The Bears’ excellent cap situation (nearly $24MM in space) and the importance of having quality edge rushers are two reasons the team won’t release either Lamarr Houston or Willie Young, as Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times writes.

On Houston, who had a career-high eight sacks in 2015, general manager Ryan Pace said, ‘‘He came on strong. Luckily, we’re in a healthy cap situation, so we can [keep him on the roster].”

Houston’s $6.99MM cap hold is the Bears’ fourth-highest total for 2016, while the $3.17MM hit for Young (6.5 sacks last season) is more modest. One anonymous AFC executive opined last month that Houston was a candidate for the chopping block, but it now appears he’s safe.

Regarding Houston and Young, who combined for 12.5 sacks over the final nine games last season, head coach John Fox stated, “Obviously, I like those guys.”

The fact that Houston and Young seem to have the approval of Bears brass doesn’t mean the club will eschew pursuing more pass rushers via the draft, per Jahns. On the contrary, they’d like to add speed off the edge. Speed isn’t the strongest suit of Houston, Young or Pernell McPhee, Jahns notes.

In other NFC news…

  • Washington re-signed Junior Galette to a one-year deal because of the uncertainty surrounding Galette’s ability to re-emerge from the torn Achilles’ tendon that shelved him for the 2015 season, Tarik El-Bashir of “Well, we’ve got to see, coming off an injury at any part of your body,” GM Scot McCloughan said. “But the Achilles for a guy’s explosion? It’s going to be interesting. That’s why the one-year deal from our standpoint made sense because, you know, does he still have the same twitch? Does he still have the same ability to get up field? I believe he does.” Galette’s contract doesn’t contain any guaranteed money. The 28-year-old pass-rusher notched 10 sacks for the Saints when last healthy in 2014, with current Washington edge-rushing counterpart Ryan Kerrigan registering a career-high 13.5 the same season.
  • Before agreeing to a deal with Tennessee on Friday, safety Rashad Johnson spent the first seven years of his NFL career in Arizona. If the 30-year-old had it his way, he’d still be a member of the Cardinals. Johnson told Zig Fracassi of Sirius-XM NFL Radio that he wanted to re-sign with the Cards, but they didn’t make him an offer (Twitter link).
  • The NFL’s decision to move touchbacks from the 20-yard line to the 25 next season should have an adverse effect on return men. Devin Hester, one of the all-time great returners, could be an exception. The Falcons might continue to turn him loose, according to head coach Dan Quinn. “There are special players like Dev and other returners around the league, they’ll still get green-lighted. Here’s a guy who is on the club for this unique reason,” Quinn told D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The 33-year-old Hester missed all but five games last season because of a toe injury, but he has since had surgery on it and is currently rehabbing.

Sam Robinson contributed to this post.

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