Predicting Chicago Bears' First Wave of Roster Cuts
After months of waiting for it to begin, the first week of training camp is officially in the books for the Chicago Bears.
The team spent the first week of camp going over many of the ideas and concepts it learned throughout the offseason in OTAs and minicamps. Now it will be looking toward adding more on both sides of the football as camp continues throughout the coming weeks.
With the team’s first preseason game looming ahead this Friday night against the Philadelphia Eagles, general manager Phil Emery and head coach Marc Trestman will continue their evaluation of the team to determine who will make the final 53-man roster.
Before it is required to reduce its current 90-man roster down to 53, the team will first need to reduce the roster from 90 players to 75 by Aug. 26. A number of current Bears are locks to make the team, and obviously, the preseason will wind up determining the fate of other players.
Some of these players on the margins, regardless of how they perform in the preseason, appear to be surefire cuts. Others fall in the category of being a probable cut, likely because of the strength of the players ahead of them on the depth chart, and some currently sit on the bubble, needing a strong showing and some stumbles from players ahead of them to make the team.
Here is our prediction for the Chicago Bears’ first wave of roster cuts.
Sure to Be Cut
Many of the players listed below are those who were brought in as undrafted free agents and already had the odds stacked against them when they joined the team this offseason.
These players may still have a shot of catching on with another team this year before the regular season starts, but their time in Chicago is likely up.
Al Louis-Jean, Cornerback
Al Louis-Jean officially signed with the Bears as an undrafted free agent earlier this offseason, according to Adam Hoge of TheGameChicago.com:
Despite registering 36 tackles, an interception, two forced fumbles and four pass breakups in 23 games at Boston College, Louis-Jean has been lost in the cornerback shuffle.
He was not expected to compete with the veterans atop the depth chart, but Louis-Jean was expected to push younger cornerbacks like C.J. Wilson and Demontre Hurst.
So far he has failed to get many reps during the early portions of training camp and will likely be a part of the team’s first round of cuts.
Derricus Purdy, Cornerback
The Bears headed into the 2014 offseason with a lot of uncertainty at the cornerback position. Charles Tillman, Zackary Bowman, Kelvin Hayden and Sherrick McManis were all scheduled to become free agents, prompting the team to sign an unproven cornerback in Derricus Purdy.
LM: #Bears have signed CB Derricus Purdy; Texas Southern product went undrafted last year.— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) February 19, 2014
Purdy went undrafted in 2013 out of Texas Southern. During his senior season, he recorded 34 tackles, one interception and four passes defensed.
Much like Louis-Jean, Purdy is simply an unproven player who hasn’t had the opportunity to show what he can do on the field.
Marcus Trice, Safety
After impressing the team as a rookie minicamp invite, North Texas safety Marcus Trice signed with the Bears this past May, per Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune:
As expected, #Bears sign S Marcus Trice (North Texas) and RB Senorise Perry (Louisville). Both were tryout players in rookie minicamp.— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) May 19, 2014
Despite measuring in at 5’8” and 193 pounds, Trice was named first-team all-Conference USA last season and finished the year with 91 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, 5.0 interceptions and 9.0 passes defensed.
While he is an aggressive safety, he is very raw from a technique standpoint. He may have the best chance of players from this group to stick on the team’s practice squad.
Lee Pegues, Defensive Tackle
Undrafted out of East Carolina, defensive tackle Lee Pegues was one of the team’s first undrafted free agents to be signed after the conclusion of last May’s draft.
LM: Other #Bears' undrafted FAs: LB Christian Jones, DT Lee Pegues, T Cody Booth and LB Devekeyan Lattimore.— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) May 11, 2014
According to NFLDraftScout.com, Pegues measured in at 6'2" and 291 pounds at his pro day and ran a 4.94-second 40-yard dash. But like many others on this list, Pegues was faced with an uphill battle to make the roster the moment he was signed.
On top of re-signing veteran defensive tackles Jeremiah Ratliff and Nate Collins this offseason, the Bears also used two of their first three draft picks on defensive tackles, taking Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton.
With Ratliff, Collins, Ferguson, Sutton and Stephen Paea ahead of him on the depth chart, Pegues will likely be one of the team’s first cuts.
Brandon Dunn, Defensive Tackle
Just like Pegues, Louisville defensive tackle Brandon Dunn was among the team’s first undrafted free-agent signings in May.
According to NFLDraftScout.com, Dunn measured in at the Louisville pro day at 6'2", 300 pounds, and he ran a 5.16 40-yard dash. Dunn registered 87 tackles, three sacks, eight tackles for loss and two pass deflections in three seasons for the Cardinals.
Dunn worked extensively with new Bears assistant defensive line coach Clint Hurtt while the two were at Louisville, but it is unlikely that their connection will keep the rookie on the roster in 2014.
Dunn has some upside and showed an ability to be a force at times against the run, but much like Pegues, there is just too much talent ahead of him on the depth chart to keep him around.
The Bears inked former Wisconsin linebacker Conor O’Neill to a deal in June, per ESPNChicago.com’s Jeff Dickerson:
#Bears have released DL Izzy Idonije, QB Jerrod Johnson, TE Fendi Onobun & S Sean Cattouse. Team signs DE Jamil Merrell & LB Conor O'Neill.— Jeff Dickerson (@ESPNChiBears) June 19, 2014
O’Neill started nine games for the Badgers in 2013, registering 42 total tackles, one sack, 5.5 tackles for loss, one pass defensed and one forced fumble.
According to Jake Kocorowski of Buckys5thQuarter.com, O’Neill has experience playing in both a 3-4 and 4-3 defense. But despite his versatility, the team is likely to carry either five or six linebackers, leaving him as the odd man out.
While determining the players that are sure to be cut is rather straightforward, determining those who will probably be cut becomes more difficult.
All of the players listed in the previous slide are those who came into the league as undrafted free agents and were faced with uphill battles as soon as they signed.
Many players listed below were viewed as long shots when signed, but some had legitimate cases to at least contend for a roster spot, making these choices more difficult.
Jeron Mastrud, Tight End
In order to bolster their tight end position, the Chicago Bears signed veteran Jeron Mastrud in June to compete for a backup role behind starter Martellus Bennett, per ESPNChicago.com's Jeff Dickerson:
#Bears also sign TE Jeron Mastrud.— Jeff Dickerson (@ESPNChiBears) June 23, 2014
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Mastrud had a pass block grade of plus-3.2 last season, second best among tight ends.
While he offers the team a solid pass-blocking option, Mastrud will have a hard time beating out guys like Matthew Mulligan and Zach Miller, both of whom have had strong training camps, for one of the final spots on the roster.
Tracy Robertson, Defensive Tackle
An undrafted free agent out of Baylor in 2012, defensive tackle Tracy Robertson spent time with the Houston Texans, Detroit Lions, New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins before landing on the Bears practice squad last October.
Robertson appeared in one game last season against the St. Louis Rams before being placed back on the practice squad.
The additions of rookies Will Sutton and Ego Ferguson have made Robertson's chances of making the team bleaker this offseason, but he has spent some time with the first-team defense in the early part of training camp, per the team's sideline reporter Zach Zaidman:
Nate Collins and Tracy Robertson getting some reps inside with the first team.— Zach Zaidman (@ZachZaidman) July 30, 2014
Despite his opportunities in training camp, it appears unlikely the team will keep Robertson in addition to Sutton and Ferguson behind veterans Jeremiah Ratliff, Stephen Paea and Nate Collins.
Micheal Spurlock, Kick Returner/Wide Receiver
After an injury ended veteran Domenik Hixon's 2014 season, the Bears signed veteran kick returner/wide receiver Micheal Spurlock this past June, per the Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs:
Armanti Edwards and Micheal Spurlock join #Bears as WR Domenik Hixon (ACL) receives injury settlement and LB Tana Patrick is waived.— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) June 3, 2014
In seven NFL seasons, Spurlock has returned 107 kicks with three touchdowns and at an average of 24.2 yards per return with six different teams.
Spurlock has spent much of training camp competing with Eric Weems, Chris Williams, Michael Ford and Armanti Edwards at kick returner and was listed on the team's unofficial depth chart, via ChicagoBears.com, as the fourth option at kick returner.
Unless he has a stellar preseason, Spurlock is unlikely to make the roster.
Chad Rempel, Long Snapper
With veteran long snapper Patrick Mannelly rehabbing from hip surgery early this offseason, the team signed CFL veteran Chad Rempel, per Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com:
#Bears agree to terms on 3 year deal with LS Chad Rempel, the team announces.— Jeff Dickerson (@ESPNChiBears) April 7, 2014
Initially viewed as an insurance policy, Rempel is now in a battle with Brandon Hartson to replace Mannelly, who retired earlier this offseason.
Rempel has struggled at times during the early part of training camp.
The team's unofficial depth chart lists him behind Harston, and his early camp struggles may wind up sealing his fate.
Ryan Groy, Guard
After not addressing the offensive line position in the draft until the seventh round, the Chicago Bears added Wisconsin guard Ryan Groy as an undrafted free agent.
LM: #Bears agree to terms with 9 undrafted free agents inc. RB Jordan Lynch, DT Brandon Dunn, G Ryan Groy, G James Dunbar, LB Tana Patrick.— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) May 11, 2014
Groy measured in at 6'5" and 316 pounds at the combine and ran a 5.19 40-yard dash.
During his junior and senior seasons, Groy made 27 starts and was a First-Team All-Big Ten selection in 2013.
With a solid starting five in place, Groy will battle for a role as a backup but will likely wind up on the team's practice squad in 2014.
Devekeyan "DeDe" Lattimore, Linebacker
Just as Ryan Groy was quickly signed as an undrafted free agent, South Florida's DeDe Lattimore didn't have to wait too long to find an NFL team.
LM: Other #Bears' undrafted FAs: LB Christian Jones, DT Lee Pegues, T Cody Booth and LB Devekeyan Lattimore.— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) May 11, 2014
Lattimore had experience playing both middle and weak-side linebacker in college, but he has seen most of his work at middle linebacker in training camp and is listed on the unofficial depth chart at middle linebacker.
The Bears will likely use both Jon Bostic and D.J. Williams at middle linebacker this season, leaving Lattimore as the odd man out.
He will likely be a top candidate for the practice squad.
On the Bubble: Cornelius Washington, Defensive End
While the players listed before this slide all seem like logical choices to get cut sooner rather than later, defensive end Cornelius Washington falls into the "on the bubble" category.
A sixth-round pick in the 2013 draft, Washington was viewed as a tremendous value pick after being projected to go as high as the second round by CBSSports.com.
Just after getting drafted, Twitter was abuzz with talk on how much value the Bears got in Washington.
Agreed. Could be scary as a pass-rusher. RT @seniorbowl: Thought CHI getting Cornelius Washington/UGa DE in 6th was "highway robbery".— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurke_SI) April 30, 2013
Love this Bears pick. Put Cornelius Washington at the 9 tech and let him run. He can be effective.— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) April 27, 2013
NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock 'really, really' likes #Bears draft - says just let Cornelius Washington go hunt quarterbacks— John Mullin (@CSNMoonMullin) April 27, 2013
Despite all of the praise following the draft, Washington ended up appearing in just two games last season. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), he played just 10 total snaps—eight against the run and two against the pass.
The odds of Washington making much of an impact in 2014 diminished with the additions of Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young in the offseason, and an offseason arrest didn't help improve his odds, per Adam Hoge of TheGameChicago.com:
Confirmed w/ Glascock County Sheriff's Office that Cornelius Washington was arrested Friday for speeding & driving with a suspended license.— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) June 23, 2014
Washington is currently listed third on the team's unofficial depth chart at right defensive end behind Jared Allen and Trevor Scott.
While he may have the athleticism and the ability to develop into a pass-rushing specialist, he will need to have a stellar preseason to avoid being included in the team's initial wave of cuts.
On the Bubble: Senorise Perry, Running Back
Undrafted out of Louisville this past May, running back Senorise Perry made a big enough impression at rookie minicamp as a tryout player to be offered a contract, via Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune:
#Bears have signed Louisville RB Senorise Perry to a contract after rookie minicamp tryout.— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) May 18, 2014
Perry is a slashing, home run threat runner who, according to NFL.com, ran a sub-4.4 40-yard dash at his pro day.
Despite possessing big-play potential, Perry was never able to establish himself as an every-down running back in college.
While his best chance of making the roster will be on special teams, he hasn't helped his cause much in training camp by fumbling, according to ChicagoFootball.com's Arthur Arkush:
Senorise Perry had a fumble, after looking good running routes/catching on move in 1-on-1 drills. Perry looks fast, but fumble hurts. #Bears— Arthur Arkush (@ArthurArkush) July 28, 2014
While Matt Forte and fourth-round pick Ka'Deem Carey are locks to make the roster, Perry is set competing with Shaun Draughn, Michael Ford and fellow rookie Jordan Lynch for what may end up being just one final spot.
In the end, Perry's biggest competition will likely be against Lynch for a chance to remain on the practice squad. Despite being a converted quarterback, Lynch's upside and potential as both a running back and special teams contributor might outweigh what Perry can offer.
On the Bubble: Jordan Senn, Linebacker
After letting special teams contributor Blake Costanzo walk in free agency, the team quickly signed veteran linebacker Jordan Senn to fill that role in 2014, via the Chicago Sun-Times' Adam Jahns:
LB Jordan Senn also signs a one year deal with the #Bears— Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) March 11, 2014
The Carolina Panthers special teams captain in 2012, Senn appeared in 83 games, including seven starts, with the Indianapolis Colts (2008-09) and the Panthers (2009-13).
While Senn has experience as a starter, he is fairly limited as a linebacker.
Because he really can only add to the team as a special teams contributor, he may have a hard time making the roster.
Linebackers Lance Briggs, D.J. Williams, Jon Bostic and Shea McClellin all appear to be locks to make the roster, leaving Senn to fight with second-year man Khaseem Greene and rookie Christian Jones for one of possibly two remaining spots.
Despite struggling at times last season, Greene still has high upside and proved on occasion that he could be a solid contributor on special teams.
If Greene's experience on special teams from last season helps keep him on the roster, Senn may be out of luck competing with Jones.
80 minutes into practice and still waiting for the second-string OL to block LB Christian Jones. Jones' fluidity & hand quickness stand out— Rich Campbell (@Rich_Campbell) August 1, 2014
When Christian Jones practices, you tend to notice him. That's a good thing for the rookie.— Zach Zaidman (@ZachZaidman) August 1, 2014
While Jones is still raw and hasn't proven anything on special teams, his upside as a linebacker may outweigh what Senn can do on special teams.
If Senn wants to stick with the team through the first round of cuts and beyond, he will need to prove throughout the preseason how important his presence can be on a special teams unit that struggled in 2014.
All training camp observations obtained firsthand by the author unless otherwise noted.