Three of the Chicago Bears’ five draft picks are officially in the fold:
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) May 13, 2019
The team announced wide receiver Riley Ridley, running back Kerrith Whyte Jr., and cornerback Stephen Denmark have signed their rookie deals. Each of these contracts are for four-years. But unlike first-round selections, there is no fifth-year option for players picked outside of Round 1. Should the Bears seek an extension with any of these players, they’ll have to wait until after the third year. But since we have a ways to go before we get to that bridge — let alone cross it — let’s move along.
Ridley is the highest-rated draft pick signed by the Bears to this point, and one whose potential surpasses his fourth-round grade. During the pre-draft process, Ridley worked with Hall of Fame receiver Terrell Owens and six-time Pro Bowler Chad Ochocinco to prepare for his NFL career. Ridley has also received advice from his older brother Calvin, who has one year of NFL experience under his belt. Seems like a wise move for a rookie. And now that he is signed, I’m looking forward to seeing how he works with quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
Whyte and Denmark were picked in the sixth and seventh rounds, respectively. And while they have up-hill battles to climb to crack the rotations at their respective positions, both players will be worth keeping an eye on. Denmark is a project at cornerback, but his size (6-3) and speed (reported 4.46 seconds in the 40-yard dash) are what NFL defensive minds dream of when building a prospect who can roam in the secondary. Whyte is a speedster return specialist who isn’t shy about his willingness to get his hands dirty in the special teams area. Both will need to make contributions on the third phase in order to make it on the season-opening 53-man roster.
With Ridley, Whyte, and Denmark signed to their rookie deals, it leaves running back David Montgomery and cornerback Duke Shelley as the Bears’ only unsigned draft picks. And because Montgomery (3rd round) and Shelley (fifth round) were late-round selections, I don’t expect negotiations to crawl as they did when the team configured Roquan Smith’s deal last summer.