The NFL cut deadline has come and gone, and the Bears have set their initial 53-man roster. There were some interesting storylines that emerged throughout the day, like Rodney Adams earning a job with the team after spending last season on the practice squad, or Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy’s decision to carry seven inside linebackers. But arguably the one thing that garnered the most attention was the decision to whittle the cornerback position group all the way down to only four players. Over the course of the day, Desmond Trufant, Artie Burns, Thomas Graham, Jr., Tre Roberson and Dionte Ruffin were all waived or released, leaving only Jaylon Johnson, Kindle Vildor, Duke Shelley and Xavier Crawford on the roster.
It is important to note that the Bears needed to carry Teven Jenkins on the initial 53-man roster to avoid placing him on season-ending IR. But Jenkins will shortly go on the IR with a designation to return, opening up a roster spot almost immediately. That newly vacated roster spot could be used to bring back a cornerback, or even safety Marqui Christian who spent some time working as a slot corner.
Even after that move, however, Pace’s work may not be done in the secondary. He and his team will spend a lot of time Tuesday night poring over the list of players cut across the league, searching for guys who could come in and improve the cornerback group.
One of those players may be Jimmy Moreland who was surprisingly let go by the Washington Football team early Tuesday morning. According to NFL’s NextGen Stats, Mooreland was the third-most successful nickel corner in pass coverage last season, and he’s a proficient open-field tackler as well. Or there could be a reunion with Cre’Von LeBlanc. He was cut by the Dolphins and last played for the Bears in 2017. Back then defensive coordinator Sean Desai was a defensive quality control coach, so he’s familiar with LeBlanc. The Buccaneers cut five-year veteran Antonio Hamilton on Monday, reportedly because they had enough nickel cornerbacks and wanted to keep extra outside corners. Meanwhile he could be an option to help shore up the inside corner spot while also contributing on special teams. Hamilton played over 75% of both the Giants’ and Chiefs’ special teams snaps in 2019 and 2020 respectively. Another veteran, Rashaan Melvin, was cut by the Panthers after the additions of Jaycee Horn and A.J. Bouye made him expendable. Melvin’s a Waukegan native who attended Northern Illinois, so there’s an opportunity for him to have a homecoming of sorts as well.
There are plenty of other intriguing names out there and it’s almost certain that many of these corners will find new homes with new teams. The only question is whether anyone will be making Halas Hall their new home.