Bears general manager Jerry Angelo confirmed Tuesday that the team could release Stewart with another year left on his contract, and that it might also cut linebacker Warrick Holdman and defensive end Phillip Daniels in money-saving moves before the free agency period begins next month.
Stewart signed a two-year deal as a free agent nearly a year ago. He began the season as the Bears starter, struggled, then lost the job to Chris Chandler before getting it back.
The Bears turned to rookie Rex Grossman as their starter for the final three games, and he is Chicago's quarterback of the future with a new coaching staff headed by Lovie Smith.
Stewart, 31, still wants to be a starter. And it's obvious he won't be one in Chicago.
"My contributions to the team won't be worth much, not being the guy," Stewart said. "You've got to move forward. It wasn't the easiest situation to be in, it wasn't the fairest, but it was what it was.
"The reality of it is, if I'm not in the plans, with one year left on my deal, the only fair thing to do is give me the opportunity to back out and shop at the mall."
The Bears have a backup in veteran Chandler but could shop for another on the free-agent market or through the draft.