Here is the tenth in an 18-part series examining the Chicago Bears' unrestricted free agents.
Name: Shea McClellin
Position: Inside linebacker
Age: 26 years old
NFL experience: Four years
2015 salary: $775,600 base salary and $741,227 roster bonus
2015 key statistics: 96 tackles (coaches’ review), two tackles for loss, two pass breakups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Probability to return: Moderate
Outlook: The Bears desperately need better play at inside linebacker in 2016. McClellin had a handful of promising moments in 2015, but he struggled late in the year. The bottom line is that McClellin -- no matter what position he lines up at -- is not a difference-maker. Is he a decent player? Sure. Has McClellin been a model citizen off the field? Absolutely. But Chicago has to add more talent at inside linebacker in the offseason. Still, Bears general manager Ryan Pace left the door open for McClellin to return next year.
“I thought he did well in making that adjustment [from defensive end/outside linebacker to inside linebacker],” Pace said. “He's kind of moved all around throughout his career. I think he settled into a natural position for him. The things you like about him are his range, his size. I think he got more and more comfortable as the season wore on. He had to battle injuries, too, which we got to evaluate and assess and we'll talk about it going forward. But there are some positive things about him and I think you have to take into account he's still growing at that position.”
Even if McClellin re-signs for one or two years, the Bears should make him compete for a starting job in the preseason. To simply hand McClellin a starting role would be misguided based on his uneven performance last season.