Chicago Bears Players Most Likely to Be Cut Before 2017 Season
The Chicago Bears aren't strangers to making big cuts lately.
After all, we're talking about a franchise undergoing a full reset led by a front office unafraid to make waves in recent years by moving on from guys like Matt Forte, Jay Cutler and others as the rebuild continues.
This summer won't be any different, as Ryan Pace and the front office trim the fat off a new-look roster. No hyperbole there—the Bears have two new quarterbacks and completely revamped weapons around the position, not to mention what essentially amounts to a brand new secondary.
At the least, who stands in danger of losing jobs is easier to predict than in past years. All of the five draft picks aren't going anywhere, and neither are the droves of new free agents, regardless of their standings on front-loaded deals.
So while the following isn't shocking by any means, it's a nice resource to have. Here's a look at notable Bears players facing the cutting board ahead of next season.
The Bears face a tall task when it comes to cutting down the roster to 53 players and reserves.
This year is more difficult than usual because the name of the game is upside. Arrival after arrival at premium spots such as wideout and defensive back make for cluttered positions with no job unearned.
While it's not all encompassing by any means, here's a look at some of the undrafted free agents and others facing being cut ahead of the season:
- Tanner Gentry
- Titus Davis
- Josh Bellamy
- Deonte Thompson
- Dieugot Joseph
- Cyril Richardson
- Mitchell Kirsch
- Ben Braunecker
- Daniel Brown
- MyCole Pruitt
- Joel Bouagnon
- Mike Burton
- Rashaad Coward
- Alex Scearce
- Isaiah Irving
- Kapron Lewis-Moore
- Jonathan Anderson
- BW Webb
- Johnthan Banks
- Chris Prosinski
- Rashaad Reynolds
There isn't anything overly surprising in the above list, though fans will notice the majority of the cuts stem from the mentioned premium positions. This isn't taking into account practice squad, either, so some of the guys above could compete for a spot there before joining the tidal wave of free agents flooding the market.
Not included in the above are five of the most notable names facing cut status. They are as follows.
Grasu appeared in eight games as a rookie and missed all of last year thanks to a last-minute ACL tear. He watched as rookie lineman Cody Whitehair moved to center and went on to play like one of the league's best, even ranking sixth among centers at Pro Football Focus.
In other words, Whitehair isn't giving up his job, which leaves Grasu in a limbo of sorts considering the Bears have Kyle Long and Josh Sitton as starting guards.
The news only gets worse—Chicago brought back Eric Kush, who can moonlight at multiple spots. As far as we know, Grasu isn't versatile enough to play anything other than center, meaning guys who can play different positions will likely clog up limited space on the depth chart.
It's an unfortunate situation for Grasu, but he'll latch on elsewhere and have a chance.
Though a popular name among fans, quarterback Connor Shaw doesn't figure to make it through to 2017 with the Bears.
Shaw is back on a one-year deal and looks like little more than a camp arm after the additions of Mike Glennon and Mitchell Trubisky, not to mention Mark Sanchez.
Interestingly enough, the Bears had already waived Shaw in favor of Sanchez, but the veteran went down with an injury and the front office called him right back. Now he's hoping to compete throughout the summer.
"You can't rule out anything in this league," Shaw said, according to the Chicago Tribune's Dan Wiederer. "You've just got to stay ready and stay on your toes."
Shaw is only 25 years old and has enough experience with the team to compete for a job. But Sanchez has mentoring Dak Prescott in Dallas on his resume, so Shaw's climb to a final roster spot is quite steep.
This feels like the year the Bears finally go a different direction on the end.
Mitch Unrein is a serviceable veteran, but it seemed like the writing was on the wall when the team drafted Jonathan Bullard. But Bullard didn't develop as fast as the coaching staff would've preferred during his rookie campaign, giving the stopgap another year of noteworthy snaps.
With those snaps, the 30-year-old Unrein landed as the 24th 3-4 defensive end at PFF.
Looking ahead, Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman hold down the other starting spots on the line. Bullard will push for Unrein's job, with quality free-agent depth signings such as John Jenkins and Jaye Howard muddying the depth chart as well.
Maybe some thought the Bears choosing not to address the end spot high in the draft or with a big name on the market signaled another year of Unrein. But a heated battle this summer promises to mix things up, with Unrein the one facing the most pressure.
Speaking of a muddying up of depth charts, take a look at defensive back.
At corner, Chicago added free agents such as Marcus Cooper, Prince Amukamara and BW Webb, not to mention bringing back Johnthan Banks. At safety, the front office splurged on Quintin Demps and drafted Eddie Jackson.
Meaning, really, the Bears could have two new starters at boundary corner and two more at starting safety spots. Now don't forget about other players still trying to make names for themselves, such as Cre'von LeBlanc, Bryce Callahan and Deon Bush.
One can begin to see where Deiondre' Hall might have a hard time making the roster. It's the same story for Kyle Fuller—Hall might not have a future at corner in Chicago, meaning he's going to need a positional change of sorts and prove the Bears he's worth keeping on as a safety.
Fuller, at least, has shown he can play well when healthy and is a former first-round pick. Hall has flashed a bit at times, but he's entering a summer at a new position with the consequences of an offseason arrest chasing him.
Quietly, running back is another logjammed position for the Bears.
Jordan Howard was the best rookie back not named Ezekiel Elliott a year ago, leaving little in the way of opportunities for other backs on the roster.
Chicago addressed the spot repeatedly this offseason anyway, drafting Tarik Cohen and signing Benny Cunningham.
As such, Jeremy Langford will need to prove this summer he can make a difference through the air. He only put up a 3.2 per-carry average last year behind the elite interior line that helped Howard have a monster season and hasn't shown the pass-catching abilities of, say, Ka'Deem Carey, Cohen or Cunningham.
Right now, Cohen and Cunningham bring more to the roster not only because they can act as a worthwhile complement to Howard in a rotation, but because they can return kicks on special teams.
Notice a trend here? This doesn't match the hype some had for Langford, a fourth-round pick in 2015. But versatility is king on a rebuilding roster, and unless he shocks during camp, Langford looks like one of the guys about to hear his named called on a cut day.