LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) _ Tackle Andy Heck, the linchpin in the Bears offensive line for four years, was released Tuesday by the team.

The move, which was expected, saves the Bears Heck's base salary of $2.2 million under this year's salary cap and frees up money for rookie quarterback Cade McNown, the Bears first-round draft pick.

Heck, 32, has been a 10-year NFL starter since leaving Notre Dame. He was signed by Chicago as a free agent from the Seattle Seahawks in 1994. Troubled by back pain, his effectiveness declined last year and the Bears have tried unsuccessfully to trade him.

Chicago signed free agent Blake Brockermeyer from the Carolina Panthers to start at left tackle.