After what seems like an eternity, we’re finally approaching the start of training camp. Between now and the end of August, players will fight it out to secure a spot on the Chicago Bears' 53-man roster. The NFL got rid of the 75-man roster cut, which means that teams will have cut 37 players at once to create their Week 1 roster. Some of those 37 may end up being well-known veterans.
As is the case every year, teams sometimes get rid of overpaid and/or disappointing veterans as a part of their roster cuts. Arguably the biggest surprise cut from last season was the Green Bay Packers' decision to cut guard Josh Sitton. Fortunately for the Bears, they were able to pick him up. He went on to be one of the best players on their roster.
Which vets will end up being casualties to the trim? Let's break down five notable players who might not make the 53-man roster.
Mitch Unrein started nine games for the Bears at defensive end, but he didn't make a big enough impact to secure that starting spot. Plus, he faces an uphill battle, given the youth and talent of the other players at the position.
Akiem Hicks and Jaye Howard appear to be safe from roster cuts this year. Jonathan Bullard is only entering his second year, so he is basically safe, as well. Unless Chicago plans on carrying five defensive ends, then the last roster spot will likely go down to Unrein and Roy Robertson-Harris.
While Unrein has starting experience and is more of a proven commodity, Robertson-Harris is younger and has more potential. The UTEP alum has the size, athleticism and strength to be a factor on their defensive line. If Unrein doesn't have an impressive camp, then he could end up on another team this season.
Back when the Bears selected Ka'Deem Carey in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, many thought of him as a fantastic addition who could've possibly taken over for Matt Forte. Fast forward four years, though, and Carey's spot on the roster is all but guaranteed.
Jordan Howard and rookie Tarik Cohen are locks to make the 53-man roster. The Bears had three running backs for most of last season, which leaves Carey, Jeremy Langford and Benny Cunningham as players who could realistically make the cut.
Langford could possibly be a cut, but considering that he has been the most productive of the three, he is likely safe. The odds would then be against Carey and Cunningham to make the roster. Both have had similar production, but the latter has proven to have some value as a receiver. If Chicago were to have four backs on the roster, then Carey could still be on the outside looking in.
Hroniss Grasu’s tale is one of bad luck and misfortune. He started eight games in his rookie season, as injuries to his neck and knee prevented him from playing at the best of his abilities. He looked to improve upon his rookie year, but an ACL injury put him on the shelf for the whole 2016 roster.
Cody Whitehair has since taken his place as the starting center. The guard-turned-center looked like one of the best centers in the league last season. Grasu will now have to fight for a spot on the Bears' bench. Even that may be difficult for the 2015 third-rounder.
Grasu lacks something that most of Chicago's offensive line backups have: versatility. He hasn't played either of the guard or tackle spots, whereas players like Jordan Morgan, Tom Compton and Bradley Sowell all have the ability to play two or more positions. Sure, Grasu is talented and young, but would they take a risk on a player coming off of a torn ACL who can't play multiple spots on the line? The Bears may look to trade him this offseason, but odds are he might not be back this year.
Another Phil Emery move has doomed the Bears yet again.
Lamarr Houston isn’t a bad football player. In fact, far from it: in the sole season he’s played 16 games in as a Bear- 2015 - he led the team with eight sacks. However, a couple of things may play factors into his not making the 53-man roster.
Arguably the biggest of those factors is Houston’s contract. He currently has the fifth-highest cap hit on the Bears’ roster with $6.99 million. He has only played in 26 games in his three years on the team due to injury. Plus, he is already 30 years old. Considering that his contract only has $1.98 million in dead cap, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Chicago clear up some cap space and let Houston go.
What the Chicago Bears will do with Kyle Fuller this season is a complete mystery.
He has been solid when he’s been on the field: his first two seasons saw him rack up a combined six interceptions. However, coming off of a serious knee injury, his roster spot is no longer safe.
To the chagrin of his coaches, Fuller missed the entire 2016 season with said injury. The Bears added Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper in free agency, who will both undoubtedly compete for a spot in the starting lineup. Throw in players like Bryce Callahan, Deiondre' Hall, Cre'Von LeBlanc and special teams ace Sherrick McManis, and Fuller will be fighting for a roster spot this preseason.
He could also be competing for a job as a starter, though. He showed some promise in 2014 and 2015, and, if he recovers from his injury well enough, he could prove everyone wrong and turn into a solid starter. If he doesn't, however, then he could end up looking for a spot on another team's roster.