August 29, 2011
Generally speaking, when a player is informed of his impending release by an NFL team, it tends to stick. And for Chicago Bears running back Chester Taylor(notes), the writing was on the wall after he was left out of the game plan in the team's preseason Week 3, 14-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans. There was news early Monday morning that the Bears were planning to release Taylor before the first round of roster cuts were due Tuesday … but then, things got a little weird.
We'll run this process via two tweets from Taylor's agent, Ken Sarnoff:
As well as we can piece it together, here's what happened. The Bears did indeed inform Taylor of his release, but then changed their minds. From Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times:
The Bears have informed running back Chester Taylor that he will be released, according to a league source.
Taylor, surely, isn't shattered up about it.
"I don't wonder or doubt," Taylor said Saturday night in Nashville. "I'm just going to do what I do: practice and work hard. And whatever they do, they're going to do. I can't control it."
Taylor was disappointed that he dressed for Saturday's game against the Tennessee Titans.
"I practiced all week, thinking I'm going to play today. So, they could have gave me the heads up sooner," he said.
A little over two hours later, Jensen updated the news, referring to the second Sarnoff tweet. "I guess there was a little bit of a misunderstanding on what we talked about. Chester Taylor is still a part of the team," head coach Lovie Smith said on Monday. If a player is released, I will tell him that, 'You're released, thank you.' That is not the case. Players who are wondering a little bit about what is going on, I want them to come up and talk with me."
"I thought we had a good conversation," Smith said of his talk with Taylor. "I guess it didn't go exactly like I thought it did."
To say the least. This is most likely a case of roster shuffling after Marion Barber's(notes) calf injury. Barber's impressive preseason performances are one reason the Bears were comfortable releasing Taylor in the first place, but in jerking Taylor around like this, they're certainly not doing him any favors. There's no question that they'll release him by final cuts, and if they're trying to maintain any sort of trade value for him, that just went out the window. They can't really play him for fear that he'll get injured and the team will be on the hook for more of his four-year, $12.5 million contract.
We should point out that nobody should be surprised by Taylor's release, if that's actually what happens. Football Outsiders reports that in 2010, Taylor was the only back since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to average less than 2.4 yards per carry and get over 100 carries in a season. But as ineffective as Taylor has been, he's got reason to be upset about this. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune adds that Bears general manager Jerry Angelo gave Taylor Monday to "cool off," and that he was expected to be at practice on Tuesday.
Biggs says that he's guessing Taylor won't play in the Bears' preseason finale Thursday, but as weird as the rest of this story has been, we wouldn't be surprised if Taylor goes out there against the Cleveland Browns and puts up some historically great numbers. After his Monday drama, it would be entirely fitting.
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