A Kicker and a QB Highlight the Chicago Bears Undrafted Free Agent Signings
It happens every year.
The Chicago Bears add a bunch of undrafted free agents we hope play their way onto the team.
Last year, we saw Jack Sanborn go from being UDFA signing, buried on the depth chart, to starting linebacker who filled in quite admirably for Roquan Smith after his midseason trade to the Baltimore Ravens. Sure, the Bears have since signed a pair of high-profile linebackers this offseason. And in doing so, moved Sanborn into a less-prominent role. Even still … the Sanborn signing (and ultimate success story as a rookie) serves as reminder that the player acquisition process never ends. Plus, UDFA signings keep us on our toes and has us ready to watch everyone at training camp. Not just the stars.
Simply put, you never know which 53 players are going to ultimately emerge from the 90 who show up at training camp.
With that being said, Pro Football Network has been tracking the UDFA signings and rookie minicamp invites. Here’s who makes the cut for the Bears (as of now):
- Andre Szmyt, Syracuse K
- Aron Cruickshank, Rutgers WR
- Bobby Haskins, USC OT
- Callahan O’Reilly, Montana State LB
- Damien Caffrey, Stony Brook TE
- Gabe Houy, Pitt OL
- Jalen Harris, Arizona EDGE
- Justin Broiles, Oklahoma CB
- Lorenz Metz, Cincinnati OG
- Macon Clark, Tulane S
- Micah Baskerville, LSU LB
- Nick Amoah, UC-Davis OG
- Nugget Warren, Jackson State CB
- Robert Burns, UConn RB
- Thyrick Pitts, Delaware WR
- Tyson Bagent, Shepherd QB
Plus, these players who are on the rookie minicamp invite list: Andrew Clair (Northwestern RB), Bralen Trahan (Louisiana S), Chris Kolarevic (Nebraska LB), Chris Toth (Aurora OT), Danny Kittner (Mary WR), D’Anthony Jones (Houston EDGE), Desmond Bessant (Buffalo OT), D’Jordan Strong (Coastal Carolina CB), Dominic Quewon (Southern Miss LB), Donny Navarro III (Northwestern WR), Jaden Blue (Virginia Tech WR), Josh Lugg (Notre Dame OG), N’Kosi Perry (Florida Atlantic QB), Sammy Wheeler (Kansas State TE), Todd Simmons Jr. (Dubuque WR), Tre Wortham (Conn S)
Consider this fair warning: Don’t get too attached to any of these names. Even members of the All-Name Team such as Callahan O’Reilly, Nugget Warren, Micah Baskerville, or Thyrick Pitts. Teams bring in UDFAs, only to give some the boot after rookie minicamps. This is the time of year when the back half of rosters become fluid.
And yet, two names stand out to me from this bunch: QB Tyson Bagent and K Andre Szmyt.
Even if I was hoping they would draft a developmental quarterback option, it wasn’t realistic for the Bears to go that route. And that’s fine, especially since they’ll go the UDFA route with Bagent. Part of my desire to unearth a developmental QB is to give us something fresh to watch late in preseason games this upcoming summer. With all due respect to Tank Sergeant Nathan Peterman, I want something more out of my QB3. This isn’t to say the Bagent definitely has it, but I’m willing to let it play out to see if he does. Besides, who doesn’t want to see a little QB3 competition at Halas Hall this summer? We’ve gotta have something to pass the time in July and August.
Watch him work:
As for kicker Andre Szmyt, he is a local-ish product from suburban Vernon Hills. Which means signing with the Bears represents a homecoming for him. But perhaps it is more than that for Szmyt, who won the 2018 Lou Groza Award for being college football’s best kicker and All-American honors. Szmyt made five field goals of 50+ yards during his Syracuse career, which is tied for the most all-time in school history.
You’d think Cairo Santos has some job security. After all, he has made more than 90 percent of his field goals since re-joining the Bears in 2020. However, Santos has limited range and had issues with extra points last year. Kicking Santos to the curb for what might be a blip on the radar would be the kind of thing Ryan Pace would do to a veteran kicker. Instead of going that route, GM Ryan Poles seems willing to bring in a new kicker to spice things up. And if Szmyt forces the Bears have to make a decision at kicker this summer, then maybe that’ll be a good thing.
In any case, we’ll continue watching this roster churn with great interest. And to think, there is probably more to come.