The preseason is over. The Bears had made it through the grind of training camp and all three preseason games.
Now, things are about to become real.
NFL teams must cut their rosters from 90 players to 53 players by 3 p.m. Tuesday. Some tough decisions will have to be made by Bears general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus. In past years, NFL teams had three waves of roster cuts to trim the roster down. Beginning this season, the cuts are all happening at once.
Up to 16 players who don’t make the 53-man roster can sign onto the practice squad, but they have to clear waivers first. The Bears could also be looking to claim players who other teams cut. Last year they claimed five players off waivers after the roster cut down.
It’s tough to predict what will happen, but Shaw Local is going to give it a try anyway. Here’s Bears reporter Sean Hammond’s projection for the 53-man roster.
Roster: Justin Fields, Tyson Bagent, PJ Walker
Cut: Nathan Peterman
Undrafted rookie Tyson Bagent has made this incredibly interesting. He performed well in the preseason, far better than anyone expected of a Division II quarterback. Of the three reserve quarterbacks, Walker had the worst preseason, but he has the biggest contract. With any other position, the Bears might risk waiving Bagent and trying to sign him to the practice squad. But good quarterbacks are hard to find. They probably don’t want to risk it at all. Frankly, Bagent has looked like the second-best QB on the roster.
Running back/fullback (5)
Roster: Khalil Herbert, D’Onta Foreman, Khari Blasingame (FB), Roschon Johnson, Travis Homer
Cut: Trestan Ebner, Robert Burns (FB)
Homer should make the roster due to his special teams value. Ebner, a 2022 sixth-round pick, hasn’t shown much during the preseason and has been injured recently. The Bears list Burns as a fullback. They likely try to keep him on the practice squad.
Wide receiver (6)
Cut: Nsimba Webster, Daurice Fountain, Isaiah Ford
Receiver Dante Pettis went on injured reserve Friday, which seems to make this a relatively easy decision at receiver. Jones will make the roster because he was one of the league’s best kick returners a year ago. He will probably have another shot on punt return too. Scott could supplant him in either one of those jobs.
Tight end (3)
Cut: Stephen Carlson, Lachlan Pitts
Lewis is the best pure blocker. The Bears will probably keep Carlson around on the practice squad, but they don’t need more than three tight ends on the active roster.
Offensive line (9)
Cut: Ja’Tyre Carter, Doug Kramer, Kellen Diesch, Gabe Houy, Aviante Collins, Robert Haskins, Josh Lugg, Roy Mbaeteka, Logan Stenberg
Jenkins could be a candidate for IR, but the team has to put him on the active roster first. Backups ideally can play multiple spots. That’s what gives Patrick, Borom, Eiselen and Leatherwood a good shot to make the roster. Carter, Kramer and Diesch would be likely candidates for the practice squad. It’s worth wondering how long the Bears want to keep the Leatherwood experiment going.
Defensive line (9)
Cut: Trevis Gipson, Andrew Brown, Bravvion Roy, Travis Bell, Jalen Harris, D’Anthony Jones
The Bears have reportedly agreed to let Gipson seek a trade. He is buried on the depth chart and doesn’t seem likely to make the team. Green and Lewis have earned spots with their play in practice and during the preseason. Jones, Billings, Dexter and Pickens would give the Bears a nice rotation at defensive tackle.
Cuts: DeMarquis Gates, Davion Taylor, Barrington Wade, Mykal Walker
Linebacker often makes up the bulk of the special teams tacklers. Cole and Sewell will be key participants on special teams. Cole has been injured much of training camp. Sewell had a concerning leg injury during Saturday’s game, so his status moving forward is unclear. Gates is ahead of Baskerville on the official depth chart, but Gates has also been injured much of camp. Baskerville, an undrafted rookie out of LSU, is healthy and available.
Roster: Jaylon Johnson, Tyrique Stevenson, Kyler Gordon, Josh Blackwell, Terell Smith
Cuts: Kindle Vildor, Jaylon Jones, Michael Ojemudia, Greg Stroman Jr., Macon Clark
The writing is on the wall for Vildor, who this Bears regime didn’t draft. Even though he has started 22 games for the organization, he’s currently buried on the depth chart. The Bears love Blackwell on special teams. Smith should be a quality backup with starting potential.
Roster: Eddie Jackson, Jaquan Brisker, Elijah Hicks, A.J. Thomas
Cuts: Kendall Williamson, Bralen Trahan
Hicks and Thomas started in place of Jackson and Brisker during the final preseason game. The Bears love Hicks on special teams too. They should look to keep Williamson, a seventh-round draft pick in April, on the practice squad.
Special teams (3)
Roster: Cairo Santos (K), Trenton Gill (P), Patrick Scales (LS)
No surprises here. The Bears cut local kicker Andre Szmyt earlier during camp. They could look to find an emergency kicker for the practice squad.