The never-ending roster churn is set to kick into high gear once the NFL wraps up the preseason this weekend.
Over at NFL dot com, Gregg Rosenthal offers up a list of notable players who are currently living on the roster bubble. Some could be cut ahead of the August 31 cut-down date that sees teams trim rosters from 80 to 53. Others could be sent packing via a trade to a team that doesn’t want to wait out the waiver process. But most importantly, many could be conceivable fits for the Chicago Bears.
For instance, we have recently discussed cornerbacks who are already available in free agency. But more names could hit the open market soon. Take Stephon Gilmore as an example. Rosenthal lists Gilmore as a possible trade option as the four-time Pro Bowl corner and the Patriots are playing contract chicken. I couldn’t help but think about that out-of-the-blue Gilmore-Bears trade rumor that came up last October when seeing Gilmore land on Rosenthal’s list. Or that Gilmore was a Bears free agent target in 2017 before signing with New England. So while I’m not on high alert, I’m at attention.
Admittedly, a trade of this magnitude seems highly unlikely because New England likely sees itself as vying for a playoff spot. And trading an elite cornerback who is just one season removed from winning the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award seems counterintuitive. But we know better than to eliminate the possibility of a surprise deal from Bill Belichick’s camp. After all, I’m old enough to remember the Lawyer Milloy cut in 2003.
With wide receiver being a cause for concern at this point of the summer, the number of noteworthy names who could become available should pique the Bears’ interest on one level or another. Maybe it’s N’Keal Harry, someone we have considered in the not-too-distant past. Or Andy Isabella, a second-round pick by the Cardinals in 2019 who has experience on special teams returning punts and kicks. Myles Boykin has 24 starts in two seasons with the Ravens, but the Tinley Park native/Notre Dame product might need to play his way onto the roster to avoid the cut line. There are numerous receiver options who appear to be on the chopping block, which could be a sign that we’re moving into an era where depth receivers are viewed as being as interchangeable as reserve running backs.
For what it’s worth, the Bears seem to be in a good place with the top of their depth chart. Allen Robinson II and Darnell Mooney are locks. Meanwhile, Marquise Goodwin and Damiere Byrd seem like safe bets to keep their gigs. However, plenty of questions remain elsewhere in the position room.. Rodney Adams appears to be playing his way onto the 53-man roster. And the recently acquired Isaiah Coulter made a nice impression in practice. But what happens after that?
Trey Pikpkins, a top-100 pick by the Chargers in 2019, is the only offensive lineman to make this list. That tells me to not expect any Josh Sitton situations to unexpectedly pop up.
The tight end possibilities here are the most intriguing, with O.J. Howard sitting atop the list. A first-round pick in 2017, Howard appears to be getting phased out of favor in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers don’t have a shortage of pass-catching options, which is putting Howard as the team’s TE3 or TE4. Chicago looks to be set to roll with Cole Kmet, Jimmy Graham, and Jesse James. But Howard’s size, skills, and pedigree should be enough for a GM in their right mind to kick the tires. Remember, the tight end is hugely important in Matt Nagy’s offense.