The Bears are releasing cornerback Tim Jennings, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link). Jennings, 31, has been in Chicago since the 2010 season.
Jennings started Chicago’s first two preseason games, but acted as the club’s sixth cornerback during last night’s game against the Bengals. The writing was on the wall in terms of Jennings’ roster status — when asked last night if Jennings was competing for a roster spot, head coach John Fox told Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times to “do the math” (Twitter link). Having undergone a knee scope earlier this year, Jennings told Jahns yesterday (Twitter link) that he is still working his way back from that knee surgery.
A nine-year vet, Jennings signed with the Bears after spending the first four years of his career with the Colts. According to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required), Jennings posted a successful 2014 season, grading as the league’s No. 28 corner while playing more than 1,000 snaps. During his time in Chicago, Jennings, a Georgia alum, started all but six games, posting 16 interceptions during that span.
Because Jennings’ 2015 $4.4MM base salary is guaranteed, the Bears will take on significant dead money by moving on from him. By making Jenning a post-June 1 cut, they will not only absorb his 2015 cap hit of $5.15MM this season, but also take on $1.5MM in dead money (the ’16 and ’17 prorated portions of his signing bonus) next year.
As a vested veteran, Jennings doesn’t have to pass through waivers, and he should be able to find a new home soon. Jenning is an Atlanta native, leading Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com (Twitter link) to posit that he could be a fit as an extra corner with the Falcons. The Cowboys and Buccaneers, each of whom employ coaches with ties to Jennings, could also be options, speculates Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports (Twitter link).
“They told me they were looking to get younger,” Jennings tells Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link), passing along the Bears’ reasoning for his release. Chicago will now line up with Alan Ball at corner opposite Kyle Fuller, with Sherrick McManis acting as the nickel CB.