Bears veteran running back Chester Taylor will be released, according to a report by Sean Jensen. Just over a year ago, Taylor was fairly sought-after in free agency and signed with the Bears to a a four-year, $12.5 million contract, including $7 million in guaranteed money. He was ineffective in his first year with the club, averaging only 2.4 yards per carry on 112 carries. Taylor became expendable to the Bears this season with Matt Forte as the clear number one back and the recent signing of Marion Barber to provide a backup option.
The question is, would the Cardinals be interested in the veteran's services? Taylor, 31, is one year removed from being a pretty versatile and effective backup running back with the Vikings. He's a solid runner and is particularly adept at catching passes out of the backfield. From 2005-2009, he caught at least 40 passes in all but one season.
With Ryan Williams' season ending injury, the Cardinals could look to add another body to their backfield. It should be noted though that Ken Whisenhunt has confidence in second-year running back Alfonso Smith, and he could be the answer to that problem. Smith, who was on the Cardinals' practice squad last season after signing as an undrafted free agent, has shown promise in camp this year and is on Whiz's radar. He said,
"I don't want to hit the panic button because I've been pleased with what I've seen out of Alfonso. That's what this game's all about. That's what building a team's all about. You have to have players step up and fit into a role when they get that opportunity."
Smith says he's improved over the offseason and has a better grasp of the offense. He can play faster because he knows the offense so well. He has improved in pass protection and he's very focused on making each play count. He missed Saturday's game with a minor hamstring issue, so look for the Cardinals to give him a longer look this week.
At this point it's yet to be seen if the Cardinals like what they have in Alfonso Smith or if they will indeed look to add some veteran depth. Chester Taylor is a player to keep an eye on.