Bryce Callahan was originally signed by the Bears as an undrafted free agent out of Rice University prior to the 2015 season. Callahan was a projected late round pick and was a hot commodity on the priority free agent market, following the 2015 draft.
He played in nine games, with three starts as a rookie and added 3 pass break-ups and 1 sack, to go along with his 20 tackles. After showing promise as a rookie, Callahan backed-up his rookie campaign with another solid year in 2016, where he amasses 5 pass break-ups and 30 tackles despite missing time with nagging injuries.
Callahan has shown toughness and a knack for sticking to his assignment over the middle of the filed. The biggest knock to this point have been injuries. He always seems to have something going on that either slows him down or keeps him out of the lineup.
I am a fan of Callahan and I would like to see him succeed with the Bears but the health issue is concerning. With Cre’Von LeBlanc coming on strong towards the end of 2016, the battle for the nickel spot will be fierce. Assuming health, I think that the worst-case scenario is losing out on the starting nickel role to LeBlanc and being relegated to a back-up spot or dime back.
This is one of the camp battles to keep an eye on. The coaching staff seems to like both players, they are both young and play with fire, and they have the same draft status, which is none. LeBlanc may have the slight edge due to injuries but I wouldn’t count out Callahan. He has a lot to prove in 2017 and chief among them is that he can stay healthy for a full season.
Experience: 3rd-year pro
Weight: 191 pounds
Contract and salary cap:
According to Spotrac, Callahan’s deal with the Bears is a one-year deal worth $615,000, with no guaranteed money.
Reason for improvement in 2017
Callahan has been a pretty solid player his first two seasons. I would imagine that he will continue to grow as a play with film study and hard work. The nickel corner is a very tough position to play and excel at. If he can stay healthy and add some better anticipation (i.e. turnovers) to his game, he could turn into a top-tier nickel back.
Reason for regression in 2017
Nagging injuries are always the concern when a player has a history of them and also is smaller in stature. This is the main reason to think that Callahan could find his way out of town come September. Another layer to this is that some players rise and some players crumble under the pressure of an intense competition. Make no mistake, this is going to be a heated, albeit friendly, rivalry between Callahan and LeBlanc.
Final roster odds
Again, assuming health, which is always tough in the case of a player like Bryce Callahan, I believe the odds are in his favor to make the final 53-man roster. There simply aren’t six cornerbacks better than him on the roster. I am putting my money on the nickel back competition going down to the wire, possibly even until opening day. Whether Callahan wins that job, or ends up as a dime back/backup, I firmly believe that he will make the team. I will put his chances at 75% simply because of his track-record of health.
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