The Bears are preparing to embark on a bit of a chaotic offseason with a roster overhaul imminent. Of the 53 players on the active roster plus the five on injured reserve, 30 have contracts that expire in March.
With a loss to the Packers on Sunday, the farewells around the locker room would begin. And there may be a lot more of them this year than usual.
Quarterback Jay Cutler is the most notable potential free agent. But other starters with expiring contracts include cornerbacks Tim Jennings, Charles Tillman and Zack Bowman, defensive tackles Henry Melton and Jeremiah Ratliff, safety Major Wright, defensive end Corey Wootton, linebackers D.J. Williams and James Anderson, kicker Robbie Gould, return specialist Devin Hester, center Roberto Garza, guard Matt Slauson and fullback Tony Fiammetta.
Sunday's game, with the NFC North title up for grabs, has everyone's attention for obvious reasons. But Bears coach Marc Trestman acknowledged the dynamics of the roster situation and the heightened urgency that exists for the older veterans with uncertain futures.
"They know time is running out," Trestman said. "And these opportunities aren't going to be out there for eight years or nine years or 10 years like they might be for a Jonathan Bostic, for instance, a first-year player."
Bennett absent again: Receiver Earl Bennett was the only Bear not to practice Thursday. Trestman said Bennett is in Texas dealing with a family issue.
"It is day to day and we are leaving it up to him on how he wants to handle it," Trestman said. "It's a very personal issue and I'll leave it at that."
Bennett has 32 catches for 243 yards with four touchdowns this season. If he were unable to play Sunday, rookie Marquess Wilson likely would be active and could see time on offense.
The Bears also signed another receiver Thursday to bolster their depth, plucking Chris Williams off the Saints' practice squad and waiving defensive tackle Christian Tupou.
Inside information: The Bears attempted to practice outdoors Thursday until a slick and muddy field forced them to divert the latter portion of practice indoors to the Walter Payton Center.
"Our guys were sliding around," Trestman said. "It became a safety issue."
Extra points: The Bears' 442 total yards in their 27-20 victory at Green Bay in Week 9 was their third highest offensive output this season. ... The Bears need to score 40 points Sunday to break the franchise record of 456 set by the 1985 Super Bowl champs.
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