This is the first in a 6-Part Series entitled 53 From 90: Who is This Year’s Josh Sitton? The premise for this being that two-fold. First off, the 2017 Bears roster still has some work to do, especially at Offensive Tackle, Outside Linebacker, Inside Linebacker, Wide Receiver, Cornerback and Safety. I plan to address each of these separately. Secondly, with the cut-down rule changing, there may be more opportunities to find useful players once the roster goes from 90 players to 53 players.
In this first installment, I plan on tackling Offensive Tackle. I am not sold on Tom Compton, Bradley Sowell or William Poehls as the main backup or “swing” Tackle. If we are being honest, I wouldn’t mind having some legitimate competition for Bobby Massie as well.
The way I am approaching this exercise is to look at which teams might have a veteran player that could be the victim of the Salary Cap or even a young player that a team is trying to sneak through waivers to the Practice Squad.
Zach Strief - Right Tackle
The former 7th Round Pick out of Northwestern has had a really nice career in New Orleans but the Saints just drafted Ryan Ramczyk with their First-Rounder in 2017. Strief should be an upgrade of Massie and at worst, create serious competition with the loser being the new Swing Tackle.
Strief’s current contract would be easier for the Saints to shed next off-season, but for the ever cash-strapped franchise, any savings would be welcome.
Branden Albert - Left Tackle
The former Pro-Bowl Left Tackle has had an interesting last few years. First signing with the Miami Dolphins, then traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Currently, Albert is a no-show for OTA’s as he seeks more money from the Jaguars.
After drafting Cam Robinson, the Jaguars may be content waiting this situation out and if Albert continues to be a no-show, could be a candidate for release. Given that Albert is going to be 33 this season, it would be a curious signing, but one that would likely offer better protection on the left side. This signing would relegate Leno Jr. to the Swing Tackle role as his struggles on the right side are well-documented.
Donald Stephenson - Right Tackle
Stephenson signed a 3-Year contract with the Denver Broncos prior to the 2016 season. Like Strief, his contact is easier to get out of in 2018 than it is this off-season, but the Broncos are another team that is in constant Salary Cap Purgatory.
After drafting Garett Bolles in April, the 12-game starter from 2016 may become expendable, especially if the small Cap savings is deemed necessary. Stephenson would compete immediately with Massie at Right Tackle but would also make an excellent Swing Tackle as he has experience on the left side.
LaAdrian Waddle - Right Tackle
Originally drafted by the Detroit Lions, Waddle has spent the past 2 years with the Patriots. He started with the Lions early in his career but most scouts thought he needed some time to develop. He may have done just that with a Patriots organization that is quite adept at grooming Offensive Lineman.
This is really a numbers game for the Patriots. They have a number of developmental Tackles that are younger and come with more team control. I could see Waddle challenging Massie for his spot but would certainly be an upgrade as a back-up.
Andrew Donnal - Left/Right Tackle
The Rams drafted Donnal out of Iowa in 2015. This past off-season however, they gave Andrew Whitworth a 3-Year contract. Donnal Can play Left Tackle or Right Tackle but would be best served in a reserve role.
Donnal would be an ideal Swing Tackle while taking a season to learn the offense and refine his technique. With the proper coaching, this could be a signing with decent upside.
Corey Robinson - Left/Right Tackle
Like Donnal, Corey Robinson is another 2015 draft pick that would benefit from coaching and an opportunity. And also like Donnal, may be the odd man out for the Lions in 2017.
Right away, Robinson would be a Swing Tackle but could end up having a starting role in the future. This is another high-upside player who could fit the Bears re-build.
Given the current state of the Bears roster, there are several positions which could use a little luck from a last-minute cut. The players mentioned are an example of players that could shake loose from their current teams and could potentially be a fit for the Bears in 2017 and beyond.
Are there any Tackles that I missed who you could see getting cut who might fit on the Bears roster?
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