Saturday marks nine months and a week since the Seattle Seahawks lost the in the Wild Card round of the 2018 NFL Playoffs to the Dallas Cowboys. With just under two minutes left in that game, Russell Wilson ran for a four yard touchdown to give the Hawks a 12-10 lead, and then Mike Davis ran in the two point conversion. That was far from the biggest play Davis had for the Seahawks during the 2018 season, but so far that’s been his biggest play in calendar year 2019.
After the season the Hawks were content to let Davis leave in free agency, which freed up the backup spot at the running back position for 2018 first round draft pick Rashaad Penny. Davis was likely also content to sign a free agent contract with the Chicago Bears, a contract that carried almost as much guaranteed money ($3,000,000) as Davis had earned over the prior four years of his career combined ($3,048,956). However, things have not exactly gone as planned for Davis in the Windy City, and just six weeks into the season, he’s buried on the depth chart and not seeing the field much.
In spite of being the Week 1 starter at running back for the Bears, over the first five weeks of the season Davis has logged only nine carries for 22 yards and just six catches. All six of those receptions came in Chicago’s season opening loss to the Green Bay Packers, and since then he hasn’t even had a pass thrown his way. In fact, after starting and playing 40 snaps against the Packers, Davis has logged only 20 total snaps over the last four games for the Bears combined. In fact, he was a healthy scratch for the Week 4 contest against the Minnesota Vikings, and that doesn’t seem to bode well for his future with his new team.
After finally earning himself significant playing time for Seattle in late 2017 and through 2018, setting career highs in rushing yards in each season (240 and 514, respectively), he was just 138 yards shy of reaching the thousand yard mark for his career at the start of the season. That seems like an accomplishment that would be easy to reach, but over the past month the Bears have given him just four carries, and he’s picked up only three yards on those attempts.
In short, with a scheduled cap hit of $4M in 2020, but the Bears able to save $3M in cap space by releasing him, at this point it seems almost certain that Davis could wind up a cap casualty in the offseason. Of course, that presumes he makes it through the season. There is the possibility the Bears could cut him during the year. Financially, it wouldn’t save them any cap space because his base salary is fully guaranteed since he is a vested veteran who was on the Week 1 roster. Thus, if the Bears cut him they’d be on the hook for both his salary and that of his replacement, which of course, is more expensive than simply paying only Davis.
However, the Bears could be incentive to cut Davis as it could put Chicago in position to receive a comp pick for Eric Kush. Kush signed with the Cleveland Browns in the offseason, but any comp pick the Bears would receive for Kush signing with the Browns is currently cancelled out by Mike Davis’ signing. Therefore, while releasing Davis wouldn’t save Chicago any cap space, it might allow them to acquire a seventh round comp pick. There’s no guarantee that it would, though, because the size of Davis’ contract with the Bears is at or near the bottom of the hierarchy for comp pick allocation. That means if even just a handful of other teams release players in order to free up a comp pick, any comp pick for Kush could be pushed down below the lowest salary slot in the comp pick allocation table.
In any case, there’s another month before the Week 10 deadline for players to qualify for comp picks, so there could be significant movement before then that renders any discussion of the Bears waiving Davis to gain a comp pick irrelevant.