LAKE FOREST – The writing has been on the wall for a while.
Bears defensive end Trevis Gipson had just three sacks last season. This was one year after a promising seven-sack performance in 2021.
Bears general manager Ryan Poles went out and added several veteran defensive ends in Rasheem Green, Terrell Lewis, DeMarcus Walker and, most notably, former Pro Bowler Yannick Ngakoue. The Bears have worked hard to reimagine a defensive line that was among the worst in football in 2022.
Now, it looks as if Gipson will be cast aside as part of that reimagining. A report from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler over the weekend noted that the Bears have given Gipson permission to seek a trade. Gipson is currently buried on the fourth-team defense on the depth chart.
Former general manager Ryan Pace drafted Gipson with a 2020 fifth-round draft pick. Former head coach Matt Nagy and his staff worked with Gipson to fit him into their 3-4 defensive scheme. When Matt Eberflus took over as head coach in 2022, he changed the scheme to a 4-3 and Gipson didn’t appear to fit into that mold very well.
Despite having two sacks and a forced fumble in three preseason games, Gipson looks like he’s on the chopping block. It would be a surprise if another team was willing to part with a draft pick in exchange for a player who totaled three sacks last season. It seems more likely that the Bears cut him before the roster cut-down deadline 3 p.m. Tuesday.
Bears defensive coordinator Alan Williams declined to comment on Gipson’s situation, but did comment on his preseason play.
“I like his play,” Williams said Monday at Halas Hall. “I like the man, I like the player. Brings energy. Productive. I like the turnover that he produced.”
I like his play. I like the man, I like the player. Brings energy. Productive. I like the turnover that he produced.”— Alan Williams, Bears defensive coordinator
Instead, it appears that Lewis could be heading toward the roster in Gipson’s place. The Bears signed Lewis to their practice squad in December of last year, then kept him on the roster throughout the offseason.
The fact is, Lewis has played better in the preseason than Gipson. Lewis had three sacks and two forced fumbles in three preseason games. He looked better during practice throughout training camp.
Green, another veteran, signed with the team in the spring and has seen significant action with the first-team defense during training camp. Walker and Ngakoue are the expected starters. With Walker sidelined, Green started Saturday’s preseason finale against the Bills.
The Bears probably can’t keep all three guys. It doesn’t bode well for Gipson, the one who the current GM didn’t bring here.
“[It’s] evaluating how they do in practice,” Williams said. “Evaluate how they do in the preseason games, who they go against, who they go against in practice, where their production comes from. Is it first, second or third down? Who’s across from him when they have that production?”
Gipson showed promise in 2021, but the scheme change ultimately had the biggest effect on his situation. Now, he appears to be looking for a new team.