McQuarters, who was a leading punt returner, signed a $21 million contract extension with the Bears in January 2002 that ran through 2006.
"After exploring trade opportunities with R.W., we felt it was in everybody's best interest to release him at this time," General Manager Jerry Angelo said in a statement.
During his five seasons with Chicago, McQuarters had 295 tackles, nine interceptions, and three touchdowns. He was a first-round draft pick by the 49ers out of Oklahoma State in 1998 and is the fourth-leading punt returner in Chicago franchise history with 983 yards for a 10.6 yard average and two scores.
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