In an effort to clear up some more cap space and hopefully get better on special teams, the Chicago Bears have announced the release of veteran punter Adam Podlesh, who, by all accounts, had a miserable 2013 season in his third year with the team. Podlesh signed a five-year deal worth $10 million in 2011, and he was set to make $1.4 million next season and $1.45 million in 2015. That’s all out the door now, and the small chunks of cash could help the Bears sign a big-name free agent, with most of the speculation focused on defensive end Michael Bennett and strong safety T.J. Ward (the latter seems more likely to hit the free agent market and would also fill a bigger position of need, so he’s the more realistic of two high-priced, elite options).
Podlesh averaged a measly 40.6 yards per punt average last season, and his average has declined in every season during his three years with the Chicago Bears organization. It’s safe to say that he was one of the league’s worst punters this past season, and he punted below the replacement level.
It isn’t difficult to find strong punters in undrafted free agency, and the New England Patriots were able to sign a first-year star on the cheap in UDFA last year by snagging two-time Ray Guy winner Ryan Allen. The Bears probably won’t sign someone as good as Allen, but it’s hard to believe that they can’t easily upgrade Podlesh this offseason and spend about half the amount of cash on their new punter.