Bears don’t expect Pernell McPhee to be the same player he once was

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When the Bears signed Pernell McPhee to a five-year, $38.8 million contract in 2015, they thought they were getting one of the best linebackers in football. It hasn’t worked out that way.

McPhee has injured both knees since arriving in Chicago and last year played just 25 percent of the Bears’ defensive snaps. This year the Bears are preparing for him to be similarly limited, and today defensive coordinator Vic Fangio admitted that it’s “probably not” realistic to expect McPhee to be the kind of player he was in Baltimore in 2014, when a 7.5-sack season convinced the Bears to sign him to a big-money contract.

Fangio also said the team’s medical staff told him that McPhee should be on a limited snap count, suggesting that there are concerns about his ability to handle the workload of being anything more than a situational player.

The Bears are paying McPhee more than $7 million this season, but next year they can cut him with only a $1 million cap hit. So McPhee is likely heading into his final season in Chicago.