The Bears officially released vet TE Dion Sims on Thursday in an expected move freeing up $6 million in cap room, much-needed relief for a team working with limited resources this offseason on the heels of its 12-4 breakthrough in 2018.
The 28-year-old tight end signed a three-year, $18 million deal, including $10 million guaranteed, in the 2017 offseason — one of Ryan Pace's bigger vet additions alongside QB Mike Glennon that year. However, the former Dolphin was limited by injuries to 22 games (18 starts) and 17 catches for 189 yards and one touchdown.
Sims appeared in only eight games last season prior to going on season-ending injured reserve with a concussion. However, even when he was relatively healthy in his first season in Chicago, he never provided the receiving contributions expected of someone signed to be the starting "Y" tight end and ascending two-way threat.
Sims' release, albeit expected, increases the onus on 2017 second-round TE Adam Shaheen to take a big step in Year 3. That Pace committed such precious draft capital to the former Ashland standout only weeks after signing Sims speaks to how highly the organization thinks of the 6-foot-6, 278-pounder who arrived in the league extremely raw but with a ton of upside.
However, Shaheen has dealt with his own injuries, mainly a right foot ailment sustained last preaseason that sidelined him until November. The Bears need Shaheen to become the combo receiving/blocking force Sims was billed as in 2019 to provide a better complement to Trey Burton. The Bears are approaching a tremendous draft for tight ends, and they could look for additional upgrades there, but with so few resources — no selections in Round 1 and 2 and only five picks overall — improvement internally would be the ideal method of getting more from the position next season.
Of course, the Bears also needed the $6 million in cap savings to potentially re-sign one of their priority free agents, nickel CB Bryce Callahan and S Adrian Amos. They're now projected to have $12 million, which is still only No. 26 out of 32 NFL clubs.
And the cost of re-signing the former became potentially a bit clearer Thursday, when the Baltimore Ravens reportedly made nickel back Tavon Young with highest-paid slot corner in the game, with a three-year deal worth up to $27 million.
Regardless of their savings in cutting Sims, that likely will be too costly for the Bears to retain Callahan, one of the up-and-coming players in the league at his position, but one coming off a broken foot and still in search of his first 16-game season as he enters Year 5.