The Chicago Bears, along with the other 31 NFL teams, will be wrapping up their preseason schedule tomorrow night. Following the end of games, close to half the league currently signed to rosters will be on the move on or before Saturday afternoon at 4 pm. Eastern time.
For the most part, teams have an a good idea of who will be on the first version of the “final” 53-man roster. The Bears are no exception, and they’ve already released veteran offensive lineman Earl Watford.
With at least 36 more moves to make before Saturday’s deadline, it’s time to take one final crack on what the team’s roster will look like before waiver claims on Sunday.
Quarterback (2): Mitchell Trubisky and Chase Daniel
I’ve maintained that the team would only keep a pair of quarterbacks and barring injury, I don’t see that changing.
Daniel’s performance against the Chiefs should convince most fans that he’s their best backup, never mind the $7 million guaranteed.
Due to having such a young team and still a few holes, the Bears aren’t in a position to use another roster spot on a player that will be inactive on game days like Tyler Bray.
Running Back (4): Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, Benny Cunningham, and Michael Burton
The top three have been set for sometime and if you had already forgotten, Cunningham showed his value again last Saturday.
It’s also likely that Burton has a role as the team’s only fullback. This means three players could battle for a final roster spot, although keeping four true running backs is not a guarantee. If the Bears choose to keep an extra, Nall is the best of the three and offers the most versatile skill set.
Wide Receiver (6): Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, Kevin White, Josh Bellamy and Javon Wims
Barring a trade of White, you can lock these six down. Wims is far too valuable to risk trying to sneak him through waivers. It’s also quite possible that Wims could end up playing a role in the Bears’ offense this coming season.
Marlon Brown or Bennie Fowler could be an option if the Bears aren’t sold on Bellamy, which is doubtful at this point.
Tight End (4): Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen, Dion Sims and Ben Braunecker
There’s been some talk that the team could opt to keep both Daniel Brown and Braunecker, pending Shaheen’s injury. I don’t see that happening. Regardless of how bad his sprain is, it’s not something that would warrant an injured reserve stint.
Braunecker has appeared a little more involved, and at least in my evaluation, the better blocker. Either way, not sure the Bears can go wrong with their choice between him and Daniel Brown.
Offensive Line (8): Charles Leno, James Daniels, Cody Whitehair, Kyle Long, Bobby Massie, Eric Kush, Bradley Sowell, Rashaad Coward
With Earl Watford now released, this projection becomes a bit more clear. Four of the five starters are set. In addition, both Kush and Daniels will be on the roster as well.
Hroniss Grasu was never likely to make the roster but MMQB’s Albert Breer’s latest report that Grasu is on the block, says everything you need to know about his roster status.
Ultimately, the final spot comes down between Coward and interior lineman Will Pericak. It appears the edge is with Coward right now, as he’s developed at a tremendous rate on top of playing a more valuable position at tackle. It’s also a much larger risk trying to sneak him onto the practice squad instead of Pericak.
Defensive Line (6): Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Roy Robertson-Harris, Jonathan Bullard, Bilal Nichols and John Jenkins
This is another positional group that appears locked in. The top five guys are locks and I’d argue that Jenkins is there as well.
Veteran Nick Williams has had an impressive preseason, but it comes down to a numbers game and for that, he’s on the outside looking in.
Inside Linebacker (4): Danny Trevathan, Nick Kwiatkoski, Roquan Smith, Joel Iyiegbuniwe
Unless the Bears decide that keeping five here is a good idea, this group is locked down as well. Iyiegbuniwe is someone who will be a developmental project, but also someone who has already seen a nice role on special teams.
The biggest question here is when does Smith start?
Outside Linebacker (5): Leonard Floyd, Sam Acho, Isaiah Irving, Aaron Lynch, Kylie Fitts
Of all the positional groups on this roster, this appears to be the hardest one to project.
Outside of Floyd and Acho, no one is safe. As of now, who has proved themselves? An argument could be made for Irving, but Lynch has still yet to play, Edebali is a 29-year-old vet with limited upside, and rookie Kylie Fitts has looked slow and very much like a long-term project.
Ultimately, I think the Bears could end up keeping Edebali and sneaking Fitts onto the practice squad. For the time being, I’ll project all draft choices making the final roster.
This is also an edge group that is almost guaranteed not to look the same after Sunday’s waiver wire chaos.
Cornerback (6): Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara, Bryce Callahan, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Marcus Cooper, Sherrick McManis
As much as I want to slot someone like Kevin Toliver II in this slot, I can’t. The depth here has been ordinary at best and even with Cooper being out, no one could take advantage.
If one of Fuller or Amukamara goes down, expect Callahan to slide outside and LeBlanc to be the first off the bench.
Both Toliver and Michael Joseph are prime practice squad candidates.
Safety (5): Eddie Jackson, Adrian Amos, Deon Bush, DeAndre Houston-Carson and Deiondre Hall
DeAndre Houston-Carson has a broken arm and could head to injured reserve but Nagy says that isn’t likely.
Despite being suspended for Week 1, expect Hall to somehow make the team, at least until the Bears can make a move this weekend. If they choose not to make a move and wait out both Hall and Houston-Carson, McManis could fill in as an emergency safety.
The other three are locks.
Special Teams (3): Cody Parkey, Patrick O’Donnell and Patrick Scales
The only true battle here has been at punter. As much of a value as someone like Tanner Carew could be at long snapper, it appears he was brought in for extra work for the two punters.
The Bears’ punting competition may have slipped through the cracks over the last few weeks. Looking at the numbers heading into tomorrow, O’Donnell has twice as many punts (10) as Ryan Winslow, but the numbers are similar. The undrafted rookie has also had better hang time numbers.
I always side with the veteran in this situation, but this is one that could end up going either way.
Practice Squad (10): OL Jordan Morgan, CB Michael Joseph, CB Kevin Toliver II, RB Ryan Nall, WR Demarcus Ayers, DL Cavon Walker, OLB Elijah Norris, WR Tanner Gentry, LB Josh Woods, OL Will Pericak.