In one of the strangest final cut-down days in recent memory for the Chicago Bears, it is my strong suspicion that in a week or so we will remember it more for the cuts that remained to be made and the signings that were still to come more than the 53 players who were left standing at 3 p.m. in Chicago.
What we saw when the smoke cleared was a roster seemingly made to stock special teams more than the offense or defense and dangerously thin in a couple spots.
To be clear there are no real shockers among the cuts.
As unfortunate as cornerback Desmond Trufant’s personal situation is, the team had nothing to base giving him a spot on the 53, and his full contract would have been guaranteed for the year had they kept him.
If he doesn’t sign elsewhere, which seems pretty unlikely for where he’s at, the Bears can re-sign him after the Rams game, but his contract will run week-to-week until midseason instead of being guaranteed.
The biggest surprise for me is defensive back Marqui Christian, who I believe was the best nickel in camp. It’s hard to imagine what more he could have done to claim a spot.
The news that Tarik Cohen will miss at least six more weeks was expected, and the Bears will probably move quickly to get Teven Jenkins to I.R. now, which will free up at least one more spot right away.
Teams are reluctant to cut any draft choices regardless of the round. The fact that Thomas Graham Jr. and Dazz Newsome, at positions where the Bears are clearly short in numbers right now, couldn’t wrest spots away from the likes of Josh Woods, Joel Iyiegbuniwe, J.P. Holtz, Lachavious Simmons or a few others is surprising.
Rodney Adams clearly earned his spot, I’m not sure Jesper Horsted even needed the three TDs vs. the Titans to stick, and Caleb Johnson is a young man I’ve tweeted about a few times the last 10 days as he’s flashed repeatedly in the Bills and Titans games and in practice as well.
If anyone played his way onto the roster Saturday night in Tennessee I have to believe it was Iyiegbuinwe and Johnson, and I guess the biggest surprise right now is Xavier Crawford emerging from that huge cornerback scrum because I can’t remember anything he did to make it happen.
But the real story of this roster for now is its construction.
NFL teams rarely go to battle with only three running backs. Keeping five receivers has happened, but six is a lot more common.
On the other hand, while there is precedent for five tight ends, it’s quite rare, and I can’t ever remember a club keeping 10 offensive linemen.
On the other side of the ball, five or six defensive linemen seems right, and it will be six when Mario Edwards Jr.’s two game suspension passes. Four edge rushers isn’t all that unusual, especially with the pass rush ability of Akiem Hicks and Bilal Nichols and blitzing ability of Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan.
But while I never bet on anything, I will wager there has never been an NFL club with seven, count‘em, seven inside linebackers or only four cornerbacks.
If they stick, and I doubt all three will, and wouldn’t be stunned if none did, Iyiegbuinwe, Woods and Johnson have to be here for special teams because they aren’t getting on the field on defense ahead of Smith, Trevathan, Alec Ogletree or Christian Jones.
So what are the Bears thinking here?
We know that only 46 of these guys will dress on Sundays, so for now our waiver wire focus should be on running backs and cornerbacks, where the team may not have enough bodies to be comfortable on Sunday, another edge rusher for depth, and potential upgrades at tackle, wide receiver and cornerback.
What’s my biggest worry?
With what appeared to be all the “quality competition” on the corners, it never occurred to me that all who would emerge would be Duke Shelley and Xavier Crawford behind Jaylon Johnson and Kindle Vildor.
I love Johnson and Vildor has impressed, but we still best hope that help is on the way.