All right, so the big cuts we were hoping would trickle through in this week’s latest roster trim didn’t come to fruition.
But that doesn’t mean we take our eyes off the prize.
And definitely not when there is still one large cut to go, as general managers shape their rosters by cutting them from 80 to 53 on Aug. 30. With that in mind, PFF’s Doug Kyed checks in with sources around the league to get a feel for any other cuts or roster shuffling coming down the pipeline. As it turns out, there is ample buzz suggesting some surprise cuts could be in the offing.
Perhaps some could even interest the Chicago Bears?
Of the eight players Kyed’s sources identify as possible cuts or potential trade bait, four are players at positions the Bears could look to bolster before the regular season kicks off.
- TE Mike Gesicki, Miami — Nah, the Dolphins aren’t cutting Gesicki. But a source informs PFF that the Dolphins have been engaging in conversations with teams and dangling Gesicki on the trade block. And, frankly, I hope the Bears would be one of those teams on the other end of the line if the Dolphins are kicking the tires on moving the tight end.
Gesicki is more of a power slot receiver than a traditional tight end. His blocking leaves much to be desired. But his pass-catching and play-making abilities as a receiver are near the top of his class. And that alone makes him an interesting target if the Bears and Dolphins were to talk shop.
Don’t get me wrong. I feel as if we, as a collective fan base, like where Cole Kmet’s arrow is pointing. But this team could still stand to add useful players with upside. And if they’re not adding at the receiver position, a pass-catching tight end could be an alternative that suits them better. After all, the two-TE packages appear to be working well with Mac Jones in New England.
If it’s good enough for Bill Belichick…
- TE O.J. Howard, Buffalo — The Bills signing Howard to a one-year deal felt like a rich-getting-richer situation. Does Josh Allen really need all those weapons? Then again, this could’ve been a situation where Howard could’ve been the beneficiary of defensive eyes going elsewhere and allowing him to shine as an under-the-radar option.
Instead, Howard appears to be behind starter Dawson Knox *and* two other reserves (Quintin Morris, Tommy Sweeney) on the tight end depth chart. If Howard’s stock has fallen that far, the Bills could look to move Howard in a move that would create $2.25M in cap space (not to mention a roster spot).
Howard hasn’t lived up to first-round billing. But if any team is in a position to roll the dice on a potential post-hype sleeper, it’s the Bears.
- WR Darius Slayton, NY Giants — “There’s a numbers issue for Slayton in New York,” Kyed writes. “which is why sources believe he could be a prime trade candidate this offseason for a wide receiver-needy team.”
Even though the Bears have 11 receivers on their roster, I’d still consider them to be as needy as anyone at the position. And while we’ve spent a bunch of time discussing a desire to add some star-power to the room, there is also a need to add depth. Bringing in depth with experience could be helpful. Perhaps the Bears could take advantage of the Giants numbers game and play it in their favor.
With Kadarius Toney, Wan’Dale Robinson, and Kenny Golladay atop the depth chart and Collin Johnson and David Sills making good impressions, Slayton looks like the odd-man out. I’d be curious to see if Bears WRs Coach Tyke Tolbert – who coached Slayton in New York – would have (1) any pull with GM Ryan Poles and (2) interest in a reunion with a former pupil.
- OL Alex Leatherwood, Las Vegas — On the one hand, it’s bad news if the Raiders would already consider cutting Leatherwood. But on the other hand, it is easy to envision a new regime with Patriots ties being so cold and calculated that they’d have no problem parting ways with a player they didn’t draft. Even if that player was a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
But one source tells Kyed it is a possibility. And despite the Bears currently rostering 15 offensive linemen, few have the type of prospect profile Leatherwood possesses. Then again, Leatherwood is a work in progress. The Raiders already moved him off tackle and to a guard spot during his rookie season. And lately, Vegas roster projections don’t forecast him being in the starting lineup. But that rookie contract could be valuable in the eyes of a team that has future openings and a coaching staff wanting to work with a change-of-scenery candidate.
In the end, I’m not sure I’d bet on any of these players becoming Bears. But we’ve been surprised before. And I can’t imagine the roster we see now looks anything like the one we’ll see in Week 1. Changes are coming around the league. The Bears are just one team figuring to shake it up at some point.