LAKE FOREST — For NFL fans Monday and Tuesday of this week prior to the NFL’s mandatory 3 p.m. Central time deadline Tuesday to reach their favorite club’s final 53-man roster are a little bit like Christmas morning.
Finally they get to see what’s been waiting for them under the tree.
But for youngsters and middle-aged to aging veterans desperate to either begin or prolong their NFL careers it’s like hell on earth.
Last week Matt Nagy called it the “uncomfortable handshake,” and Monday he added, “This is that time right now where these guys have worked their tails off to get to this point and unfortunately you have to have some tough conversations with them, and this is probably the worst part of the year when you gotta tell some of thee guys that it’s not gonna work out here.”
While he’s never been cut, Andy Dalton has been through a decade of these “Black Tuesdays” and he told me, “It’s tough. This is the toughest time of year in football.
“You start the roster with 90 guys and at the end of the day you’re going to have 53 on the roster. That’s a ton of guys that are going to get released,” Dalton said. “This is a tough time of year.”
But it also is a part of the game, something everyone in the league signed up for when they applied for the job.
Still, some decisions are tougher than others. Here are a few tough ones for the Bears.
Desmond Trufant – After the Bears cut Kyle Fuller the team signed Trufant to take his spot. There has been considerable competition, but it was assumed the job was Trufant’s to lose.
Then just more than two weeks ago, Trufant left the team with an excused absence for “personal reasons,” and the timing was consistent with the death of his father.
With youngsters Kindle Vildor, Artie Burns, Duke Shelley, Thomas Graham Jr. and Tre Roberson all battling for four or five jobs alongside Jaylon Johnson, Nagy talked Monday about Trufant’s status.
“That’s one of the discussions we’ve got to go through tonight,” Nagy said. “You want to be able to be available, and he has his situation too. It’s never an easy one.”
This could end well but right now Nagy and Pace are in a no-win situation.
Jesper Horsted vs. J.P. Holtz – Holtz has been sidelined with a chest injury while Horsted has been lighting up scoreboards. Although Holtz is a significant special teams contributor, an area of concern right now, he, Cole Kmet and Jesse James are all Y tight ends and Horsted is a U, the only option to back up Jimmy Graham.
Elijah Wilkinson, Lachavious Simmons and Arlington Hambright – With Jason Peters and Germain Ifedi set to start at tackle, Teven Jenkins needing to make the final 53 before he goes to I.R., and Alex Bars and Larry Borom seeming locks, is anyone else safe?
Can the Bears keep a ninth O-lineman, and if so, has Wilkinson really separated himself from the younger Simmons, and who are they the most comfortable they can expose to waivers and still reclaim if they want to?
Rodney Adams, Riley Ridley and Dazz Newsome – The sense is that Adams and Newsome have claimed the fifth and sixth wideout spots behind Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, Marquise Goodwin and Damiere Byrd.
I believe Adams has earned a spot, and although Newsome’s punt return ability brings more flexibility than Ridley does, Newsome hasn’t shown he’s a better or as good of a receiver as Ridley and seems to be winning just because he’s newer and lesser known.
If Ridley is gone will the Bears end up having quit too soon without really giving him a chance? And are any of the three – and for that matter Byrd – good enough after the first three?
Nick Foles – The Bears won’t cut him, but will they take a late pick just to move him and open a roster spot elsewhere?
QB insurance is huge in this league, and it seems his value can only go up by keeping him into the season and closer to the trade deadline.
But hey, Tyler Bray is still on the street and eligible again for the practice squad because of continued special COVID-19 related allowances.