Every year, heading into training camp and the preseason, certain players stand out to such a level that they gain a bit of a following. They make an outstanding play in a preseason game, or they have some sort of excellent talent that flew under a lot of teams' radars. Then they either fail to make a mark in the NFL or are cut at the end of preseason.
Mike Hass was one such player. He was a sixth-round draft pick of the New Orleans Saints in 2006, slipping from his projected third-or-fourth round billing, and after recording three receptions in his first preseason game, was released on September 3, 2006.
Hass came to the Bears the next day and was signed to the practice squad. He made the active roster on February 8, 2007, and the next preseason, made an outstanding touchdown catch to solidify his place in Bears' lore - after making the active roster that year, he was waived and signed to the practice squad... three times more after that, his final release coming on December 23, 2008. To the NFL he's a free agent, his last football being played with the UFL's Omaha Nighthawks.
Every year, a player comes into camp as an UDFA or other unremarkable free agent and is latched on as a guy who should make the NFL roster. Last year it was Dane Sanzenbacher, Kris Adams, Andy Fantuz, Mike Holmes, and to a lesser degree Robert Hughes and Armando Allen. Who will it be this year?
My money's on James Brown, the Troy offensive tackle. His story is similar to Hass - offensive tackle is a position on the team that has struggled (and before you laugh, 2005's Saints had Donte Stallworth leading the team with 945 yards and Joe Horn not being Joe Horn, not to mention the Bears' own issues at the receiver position) and had decent projections on his draft pick but fell out of the draft entirely. He's easily a guy I could see Bears' fans clamoring for to make the roster. And he probably could - it depends on how much Lovie and Tice like their guys.
Who are some other UDFAs or otherwise unheralded free agents you can see being contenders for the award?