When the Bears cut P.J. Walker in favor of Tyson Bagent, that was just the beginning of what I now call Reckoning Day in the NFL. This year, for the first time, there is only one official cutdown day. Bagent will get a roster spot, but don’t be surprised if the Bears sign Nathan Peterman to the practice squad or grab a different veteran QB after today’s cuts.
Trevis Gipson, Kindle Vildor, and Alex Leatherwood were among today’s cuts, something we discussed two weeks ago. Second-year running back Trestan Ebner was waived with an injury designation. Larry Borom and Velus Jones remain on the roster for now, and if you haven’t heard, Darnell Mooney might be a trade candidate.
The Bears aren’t concerned about a drop in production by Mooney. He is in the last year of his contract, extension talks have been non-existent according to sources, and maybe it makes good sense to see what a potential return would look like. GM Ryan Poles also drafted Mooney’s replacement when he selected Tyler Scott in this year’s draft. The folks at Pro Football Focus don’t believe Poles will trade Mooney, but they didn’t discount that option, either. It’s speculation and nothing more (emphasis mine).
Some will see Gipson’s cut as a surprise. He had a good preseason, but he accumulated his stats against third-stringers. The writing was on the wall for the fourth-year EDGE when Poles signed Yannick Ngakoue. Gipson’s release also confirms the team’s confidence in second-year end Dominique Robinson. Another way of looking at it is that Poles is also distancing himself from the leftovers from the previous regime. Justin Fields isn’t going anywhere, but he’s just one of a few inherited players with long-term expectations.
With Trevis Gipson and Kindle Vildor waived, only 9 Ryan Pace draft picks remain on the Bears roster:
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) August 29, 2023
Vildor, like Gipson, is a holdover from the Ryan Pace era. Both players should find new homes before the regular season starts a week from Sunday. I’ll list the other cuts by position group.
- Quarterback: Walker, Peterman
- Running Back: Ebner, Robert Burns
- Tight End: Chase Allen, Jake Tonges, Stephen Carlson, Jared Pinkney, Lachlan Pitts
- Wide Receiver: Aron Cruickshank, Daurice Fountain, Joe Reed, Nsimba Webster
- Offensive Line: Leatherwood, Logan Stenberg, Aviante Collins, Kellen Diesch, Deiter Eiselen, Robert Haskins, Gabe Huoy, Josh Lugg
- Defensive Line: Gipson, Travis Bell, Andrew Brown, Jalyn Holmes, D’Anthony Jones, Roy Mbaeteka, Bravvion Roy
- Linebacker: Micah Baskerville, Kuony Deng, DeMarquis Gates, Buddy Johnson, Davion Taylor, Barrington Wade, Mykall Walker
- Defensive Back: Vildor, Macon Clark, Greg Stroman, Bralen Trahan, Kendall Williamson
- Special Teams: Andre Szmyt (PK)
The depth chart is close to its final iteration as well. The Bears acquired offensive lineman Dan Feeney from the Dolphins on Monday night. Poles sent a 6th-round pick to Miami for the Orland Park native who can play guard or center. Here is how things shake out as of Tuesday afternoon, starters are emboldened.
Just got call from Bears QB Tyson Bagent. Hadn’t reconnected since he left @seniorbowl, where he was coached by Luke Getsy.
Extremely difficult for D-II kid to make opening day 53 as UDFA but to potentially be No. 2 behind Justin Fields is Hollywood stuff.
Incredible story. pic.twitter.com/xMykMTDnBv
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) August 29, 2023
- Quarterback: Fields, Bagent. One of the biggest stories of the preseason was the confidence and progress of Bagent coupled with Walker’s persistent struggles on easy reads. The Bears can develop Bagent with the belief they may have found a diamond in the rough, but they could seek another veteran presence.
- Running Back: Khalil Herbert, D’Onta Foreman, Roschon Johnson, Travis Homer, Khari Blasingame. Herbert is a starter in name only. Expect Foreman and Johnson to get plenty of touches, and Johnson could work his way up to RB1 as the season progresses. Blasingame is the starting fullback, and Homer will play mostly on special teams.
- Tight End: Cole Kmet, Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis. Kmet is coming off a breakout year and signed a contract extension earlier this summer. Tonyan and Lewis give Chicago a formidable veteran presence at the position.
- Wide Receiver: D.J. Moore, Mooney, Chase Claypool, Jones, Tyler Scott, Equanimeous St. Brown. The Fields-to-Moore combination is going to be electric. I doubt Mooney will be traded, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Claypool signs an extension. He won’t be expensive, and Poles likes him a great deal.
- Offensive Line: Braxton Jones, Teven Jenkins, Cody Whitehair, Nate Davis, Darnell Wright, Feeney, Ja’Tyre Carter, Borom, Lucas Patrick, Doug Kramer. Jenkins is injured and could be a candidate for short-term injured reserve. How the line shakes out in his absence is still a work in progress. Head coach Matt Eberflus could move Whitehair back to center now that Feeney is with the team. It’s also nice to see that Kramer made the squad.
- Defensive Ends: DeMarcus Walker, Ngakoue, Robinson, Terrell Lewis, Rasheem Green. The addition of Ngakoue and Walker will improve Chicago’s pass rush. Gipson is better suited to play in a 3-4 defense and should find a new employer almost immediately. I’m sure Poles tried to trade him, but if there were no takers, that validates the decision to cut him.
- Defensive Tackle: Justin Jones, Andrew Billings, Zacch Pickens, Gervon Dexter. Bell will probably go to the practice squad because he is a favorite of Poles. He was a reach on draft day, and will easily clear waivers. Pickens and Dexter will see plenty of game action.
- Linebacker: Tremaine Edmunds, T.J. Edwards, Jack Sanborn, Noah Sewell, Dylan Cole. Sanborn is the only returning starter, but this group is much, much stronger with the additions of Edmunds, Edwards, and Sewell. Sewell is an instinctive rookie with plenty of promise, but he suffered a groin injury in the final preseason game and could be out for a while.
- Cornerback: Jaylon Johnson, Kyler Gordon, Tyrique Stevenson, Terell Smith, Josh Blackwell, Jaylon Jones. Gordon will play in mostly nickel coverage, so Stevenson will often line up opposite Johnson. Eberflus expects significant takeaway production from this group. This is the deepest and most talented position group on the team. Linebacker is a close second.
- Safety: Eddie Jackson, Jaquan Brisker, Elijah Hicks, A.J. Thomas. Depth is an issue, so there could be a change or two before the Bears face the Packers on September 10.
- Special Teams: Cairo Santos, Trenton Gill, Patrick Scales. None of these players were in any danger of losing their jobs.