Well folks, we have finally gotten to the point in the off-season where the Bears have submitted their initial 53-man roster. For these 53 players, the dream lives on. Most of them will be on the roster week 1 versus the Falcons, but this is likely not the finished product yet. There are still hundreds of players on waivers, available via trade and sitting on the scrap heap.
As usual, there were some odd choices made by the Bears. I am not going to do a deep dive into the entire roster as it is still a bit premature for that. However, I do want to go through some of the more curious decisions made by the Bears’ brain trust during this initial iteration of the 53-man roster.
Players Who Made the Team
Mark Sanchez - It wasn’t a total shock that he made the roster given that the Bears clearly wanted him to mentor Mitchell Trubisky. The shocker for me comes from the fact that the Bears are going to be carrying a handful of injured players, leaving several positions to be rather thin to start the season. It is a little concerning that a player that seemingly offers little value as a player would make the roster over a player that could contribute, even if just on special teams.
Michael Burton - Personally, this didn’t really surprise me either. For some reason, somebody on the Bears staff wants a fullback even though they don’t really use the position often. Burton had a pretty rough preseason and in my opinion, the zone blocking scheme works better without a fullback. This seems like a luxury that a seemingly thin roster can ill afford.
Josh Bellamy and Deonte Thompson - First things first, Thompson played his way onto the roster. I have no issues with him making it. I only put him on because not one of the writers at WCG picked him to make the roster. Bellamy on the other hand, has been hurt for the bulk of the preseason and has proved in the past to offer little value on offense. Bellamy’s value has always been on special teams. Can a team that lost it’s number 1 receiver and is only carrying 5, really afford to carry a special teamer?
Daniel Brown and Ben Braunecker - The Bears keeping 4 tight ends would not have shocked me. I think many of us had predicted that would happen. But keeping 5! Now that is a surprise. Neither of these players deserves to be cut but neither really earned a spot either. My guess is one of these two will eventually land on the practice squad once all is said and done. The question is which one? Brown offers more on offense and Braunecker offers more on special teams. This will be an interesting decision during the week.
Deon Bush - This is the biggest head-scratcher of the bunch. Bush showed nothing last season, nor did he do anything to make the team in the off-season. Unless Bush turns himself into a really great special teamer, then I fail to see the value of using a precious roster spot on him.
Kyle Fuller - Only because so many people thought he would be cut before the preseason. It never seemed likely to me but worthy of mentioning that he is, in fact, on the Bears roster.
Players Who Were Cut
Tanner Gentry and Titus Davis - Given the dearth of talent at the wide receiver position, it is a little curious that neither of these young, and talented players made the roster. Gentry lit it up in practice and had a great rapport with Mitchell Trubisky. Davis played with the ones and twos in the 3rd preseason game, and played well. Davis may have actually been the bigger surprise than the fan-favorite Gentry.
William Poehls - Here is another player who seemed to be getting reps with the first and second string offense, only to be shown the door this afternoon. Tom Compton and Bradley Sowell can both play guard in a pinch, but I think this speaks more to the health of Kyle Long than anything. If Long were expected to miss time, I am not sure that the Bears could have afforded to let Poehls out the door.
Jaye Howard and John Jenkins - These were two signings that, at the time, followers of the Bears had expected to be close to roster locks. I don’t think that anyone could have predicted that Jonathan Bullard and Roy Robertson-Harris would have looked so good in the preseason, but these were players, especially Howard, that many thought were shoe-ins to make the roster. Heck, I had Howard starting opposite Akiem Hicks. So much for best-laid plans. Keep an eye out for re-signing Howard after week 1 if he is still available, as the contract would not be guaranteed.
Keep in mind with all the roster madness taking place right now that this is a very fluid situation. No team’s roster is completely set right now. There will be waiver claims announced tomorrow at 11 am CDT. There will probably still be a few trades made and the Bears were one of only seven teams not to make a trade during the preseason.
The Bears are likely to look for a wide receiver, outside linebacker and perhaps a defensive lineman as well. These are the areas that looks to be the thinnest at the moment. The cuts my have happened today but the excitement of roster-building still has one last important step to go. I can’t wait for tomorrow morning!