The definition of the word “journeyman” meaning a player who is technically competent, but unable to particularly excel or stick with one team consistently, fits Chicago Bears safety Chris Prosinski quite well.
Prosinski, a six-year veteran out of Wyoming, has seemingly found a home with Chicago in the past two seasons, after being waived and released by the Jacksonville Jaguars and Philadelphia Eagles in two separate stints to start his career. He doesn’t do anything particularly well, but he’s served as adequate depth (yes, this is what you would expect from a backup safety) and is a quality and savvy special teamer.
He was never going to be an All-Pro or even Pro Bowl safety, but what Prosinski has been able to do in the NFL, and why he’s still with the Bears after re-signing this offseason, is carving a niche out as a valued playmaker on special teams. 156 tackles over six seasons (25 and 31 respectively with Chicago in 2016 and 2015) isn’t something to overlook in regards to a player who primarily contributes on special teams. Clearly, he’s not that lockdown star defensive back given his one career interception, sack, a forced fumble, and a total of seven pass deflections, and that’s 100 percent okay.
Sure, other roster spots could be used instead of signing someone who can’t contribute defensively, at least well. Some will question why the Bears keep Prosinski much in the same fashion why they keep largely a sixth receiver in Joshua Bellamy. To that, you only need to consider their contributions in areas they’re comfortable with.
Bellamy and Prosinski are both gunners who make tackles and are “keepers” or so to speak. When they’re pressed into natural positions, criticism arises, but that doesn’t mean there’s automatically no merit surrounding them. That’s a falsehood that puts a team into trouble, especially one still low on depth such as the Bears. Prosinski is likely more of a stopgap for where he plays in comparison to Bellamy, but that doesn’t rule him out or have any of his input completely diminished in that sense.
When you ignore special teams, you ignore such a crucial part of the game. In essence, a piece of the game that can often be a difference in winning and losing as cliche as it sounds in say, field position. Every player has an impact in that respect. And it’s not as if the Bears are the ones pressing Prosinski into action outside of special teams. That’s injury and a relative lack of talent at the position that isn’t to blame on the veteran, but the team building in itself.
For what you ask of Prosinski, he’s always delivered. When you press him outside of his comfort zone as an actual defensive starter, you won’t like those results and for good reason. That’s the best summation of a veteran who will do his best in what is asked of him regardless.
Experience: Six years
Weight: 213 pounds
Contract and salary cap
According to Spotrac, Prosinski’s latest deal with the Bears will pay him a total of $775,000 in 2017. He has a signing bonus of $80,000 and that is also his guaranteed money. Meanwhile, his cap hit is $695,000 and should he not make the final roster, the Bears would only have $80,000 in dead space given his guaranteed money. Prosinski does not have any performance incentives.
Reason for improvement in 2017
What you see is what you’re largely going to get with Prosinski moving forward. He’s not a flashy player. He’s not going to make a real impact on defense. However, when you slot him on kickoffs, punts, and otherwise, you can count on him making plays downfield and doing his job, which not every role player can do. At this stage of his career at 30-years-old, the best scenario is staying consistent and not attaining any more relevant responsibility. With health and performance issues across the roster solved, perhaps you don’t hear more of Prosinski in precarious situations should be with the Bears through the upcoming regular season.
Reason for regression in 2017
There is a lot of stiff competition at safety in Chicago even if no one is quite sure whether any of the players are in any way competent. With Deiondre’ Hall moving over, and the addition of Quintin Demps and Eddie Jackson to the pairing of Adrian Amos and Harold Jones-Quartey, you already have a crowded safety room in Chicago. It’s highly unlikely the Bears keep each of these players. For Prosinski, given his limited skill set, he’s probably going to have to stick out on special teams in one of the last slots and prove he’s worth keeping around in that light. If not, an influx of talent could spell the end of the veteran’s Bears career.
Final roster odds
Even while Prosinski has proven to be one of head John Fox’s more steady special teams players, he faces an uphill battle in regards to playing with the Bears for a third season. Chicago is looking for a safety duo they can trust to make plays and stay disciplined and even while special teams is important, having a trustworthy defensive back line takes precedence. With that kind of competition in tow, the margin for error for Prosinski in training camp will be very low. At this juncture, it’d be easy to pinpoint his roster odds as less than 50 percent. Just remember you can never count out hard work and diligence.
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for the Rock River Times and is an editor for Windy City Gridiron. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.