There is no such thing as too much depth. And in a time when it is important to have as many fresh bodies as possible, it’s good to see the Bears still being active on the waiver wire.
In addition to signing Mike Pennel (which we discussed on Thursday evening), the Bears announced tight end Jake Butt and offensive lineman Tyrone Wheatley Jr. are joining the team, too. All three players were with the team during this past week’s minicamp on a tryout basis. Evidently, all three made a good enough impression to get a longer look.
The most interesting of the group might be Pennel. There is never a bad time to add bodies to the position groups in the trenches. But the Pennel signing comes at a time after nose tackle Eddie Goldman sat out mandatory minicamp. And while Head Coach Matt Nagy expects Goldman to be in the fold when training camp starts, an unexcused absence puts uncertainty in the air. Because even if Goldman does come back, we’r talking about a player who missed a year’s worth of reps. Having Pennel around could allow Goldman to get into game shape without rushing him into action.
Bringing in Butt to the tight ends room is a notable move. Butt was one of college football’s most accomplished tight ends while at Michigan. Had he not suffered a torn ACL in his final college game, Butt was pegged as a possible second-round pick after a collegiate career in which he won the Big Ten’s top TE award twice, earned first-tam All-American honors, and the John Mackey Award (given to college football’s top tight end). Injuries might have derailed Butt’s career, but taking a flier on a 25-year-old with that résumé could be a worthwhile gamble.
And for good measure, here’s 14 minutes worth of Butt highlights:
Fans of a certain age will remember Tyrone Wheatley Jr.’s father, a standout running back at Michigan who picks up an eighth-place finish in the 1993 Heisman race and played in the NFL for the Giants (1995-98) and Raiders (1999-04). But the younger Wheatley is trying to carve a different path to the league. A converted tight end, Wheatley is trying to make the league as an offensive tackle. He was most recently participating in The Spring League, a developmental league helping to aid NFL hopefuls. The Bears have a tendency to tryout players going through transformations into new positions. Sometimes they end up like Roy Robertson-Harris. But other times, it ends up looking like the Rashaad Coward offensive line experiment. Let’s hope for the best for all parties here.