Bears

Bears depth chart: Position battles come into focus on 90-man roster

Bears depth chart: Position battles come into focus on 90-man roster

With the reported signings of wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. and safety Tashaun Gipson, the Bears’ 90-man roster is at, well, 90. So let’s take a look at what the full depth chart looks like right now, which’ll give us a window into what roster and position battles are coming into focus ahead of the 2020 season. 

(Players with one star* are drafted rookies; two stars** are undrafted free agents)

QUARTERBACK

1A. Mitch Trubisky
1B. Nick Foles
3. Tyler Bray

Trubisky will take the first snap of the Bears’ first training camp practice, so technically, we’ll say he’s ahead of Foles on the depth chart right now. But my expectation is that Foles will overtake Trubisky and be the Bears’ Week 1 starter. 

[MORE: Did the Bears mis-read the quarterback market?]

RUNNING BACK

1. David Montgomery
2. Tarik Cohen
3A. Ryan Nall
3B. Artavis Pierce**
3C. Napoleon Maxwell**

Nall, Pierce and Maxwell look set to compete for a roster spot during training camp — unless the Bears sign a veteran free agent running back (like Carlos Hyde or Wendell Smallwood) first. 

WIDE RECEIVER

1. Allen Robinson 
2. Anthony Miller 
3. Cordarrelle Patterson
4. Ted Ginn Jr.
5. Riley Ridley
6. Javon Wims
7. Trevor Davis
8. Darnell Mooney*
9A. Reggie Davis
9B. Thomas Ives
9C. Alex Wesley
9D. Ahmad Wagner**

This unit can be broken up in to three groups: Robinson/Miller/Patterson, who are all roster locks; Ginn/Ridley/Wims/T. Davis/Mooney, who will have a chance to compete for at least three roster spots; and R. Davis/Ives/Wesley/Wagner, who will need huge camps to bump off anyone ahead of them. I think Ginn, Ridley and Mooney all make the cut, but I wouldn’t be surprised if any of them didn’t -- even Ginn and Mooney, who still have to earn their way onto the roster. 

(Also, I didn't list the receivers at their respective positions here to illustrate how wide-open I think the competition will be.)

TIGHT END

1. Jimmy Graham (U)
2. Ben Braunecker
3. Jesper Horsted
4. Darion Clark

1. Cole Kmet (Y)*
2. Demetrius Harris
3. J.P. Holtz
4A. Adam Shaheen
4B. Eric Saubert

Graham, Kmet and Harris will be on the Week 1 roster, leaving one or two spots up for grabs for the rest of the group. My thought here is the Bears will keep a backup at the “U” — Braunecker gets the nod over Horsted — and then also Holtz, who has the flexibility to play fullback. Shaheen has an uphill battle to make the roster after three lackluster years in Chicago. 

OFFENSIVE LINE

1. Charles Leno Jr. (left tackle)
2. Jason Spriggs
3. Lachavious Simmons*
4. Dino Boyd

1. James Daniels (left guard)
2. Corey Levin
3. Arlington Hambright*

1. Cody Whitehair (center)
2. Sam Mustipher

1A. Germain Ifedi (right guard)
1B. Rashaad Coward
3. Alex Bars
4. Dieter Eiselen**

1. Bobby Massie (right tackle)
2. Jason Spriggs
3. Badara Traore**

A lot of the depth has to be sorted out here, including where guys actually play (like seventh rounders Simmsons and Hambright). But the big battle will come down to Ifedi vs. Coward to at right guard. The thought here is Ifedi enters camp with a slight edge over Coward, though both should wind up making the cut given their flexibility to play tackle, too. 

[MORE: Mayor Lightfoot has some thoughts about the Bears' offense]

DEFENSIVE LINE

1. Akiem Hicks
2. Eddie Goldman
3. Roy Robertson-Harris
4. Bilal Nichols
5A. John Jenkins
5B. Brent Urban
5C. Abdullah Anderson
8A. Lee Autry**
8B. Trevon McSwain**

The top four in this group are set, with Jenkins/Urban/Anderson competing for one or two roster spots. Jay Rodgers likes to rotate all of his active linemen on gamedays, though, so whoever is fifth on the depth chart should see some playing time. 

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

1. Khalil Mack
2. Robert Quinn
3. Barkevious Mingo
4. Trevis Gipson*
5A. Isaiah Irving
5B. James Vaughters
6A. Ledarius Mack**
6B. LaCale London**

The difference in the groups here: Irving and Vaughters have played in the NFL; Mack and London are undrafted free agents. But there isn’t much of a gap between Irving/Vaughters and the UDFAs to make the roster — someone like Khalil Mack’s brother could certainly earn a spot with a good camp. 

[MORE: Why Brian Urlacher thinks Lance Briggs is a Hall of Famer]

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

1. Danny Trevathan
2. Roquan Smith
3A. Josh Woods
3B. Devante Bond
3C. Joel Iyiegbuniwe
6A. Rashad Smith**
6B. Keandre Jones**

The depth behind Trevathan and Smith is a lot weaker than it was last year with Nick Kwiatkoski and Kevin Pierre-Louis. But the Bears are high on Woods’ potential, which may be why they haven’t signed a veteran backup this year. 

CORNERBACKS

1. Kyle Fuller (outside)
2. Artie Burns
3. Xavier Crawford
4. Michael Joseph

1. Jaylon Johnson (outside)*
2. Kevin Toliver II
3A. Tre Roberson 
3B. Stephen Denmark

1. Buster Skrine (nickel)
2A. Kindle Vildor*
2B. Duke Shelley

I wouldn’t be surprised if Vildor winds up backing up Fuller outside, but we'll start him in the slot for now. The fifth round pick has an intriguing skillset but also an impressive competitive streak that’ll help him fit as a reserve in the Bears’ defense. 

SAFETY

1. Eddie Jackson (free safety)
2. DeAndre Houston-Carson
3. Sherrick McManis
4. Kentrell Brice

1. Tashaun Gipson (strong safety)
2. Deon Bush
3. Jordan Lucas

The signing of Gipson pushes Bush back into a reserve role, though he’s the first guy off the bench at either safety position. There should be a competitive battle for depth here behind Bush, too, with McManis, Houston-Carson and Lucas all having good special teams experience. 

SPECIAL TEAMS

1A. Eddy Pineiro (kicker)
1B. Ramiz Ahmed**

1. Pat O’Donnell (punter)

1. Patrick Scales (long snapper)

Pineiro is probably more of a favorite than I’m giving him credit for here, since Ahmed last kicked in college at Nevada in 2018. But whoever the kicker is has to give Matt Nagy more a reason to be confident in him than the Bears’ coach was confident in Pineiro last year. 

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Bears' offense ranks among the NFL's worst analytically, new study finds

Bears' offense ranks among the NFL's worst analytically, new study finds

The Bears' offense was bad last year. I know that. You know that. The Bears (hopefully?) know that. 

But *extremely 30 For 30 voice* what if I told you just how bad they really were? Would you be interested in that? You wouldn't be? Sorry, got a quota to hit. 

In a fascinating new study written by Rotoworld's Hayden Weeks, the lack of modern wrinkles in Chicago's offense are made painstakingly clear. Weeks took an analytically-slanted look at every NFL offense, and friends, it's a rough read: 

4th Down Aggressiveness: 23rd
Pass Rate on Early Downs: 9th
Pass Rate While Trailing: 13th
Play-Action Rate: 27th
Downfield Pass Rate: 16th
Middle of the Field Pass Rate: 5th
Pre-Snap Motion Percentage: 30th
Outside Run Rate: 20th
Shotgun Run Rate: 5th
Offensive Pace: 22nd

Overall, Weeks ranks the Bears as the 22nd best offense in football based on the above metrics. If there's any hope whatsoever, it comes from his short write up of Nagy's offense – but still, temper your expectations: 

If I incorporated the front office, the Bears would be much lower, but I think Nagy holds his own in terms of in-game analytics usage. He’s just been dealt a horrible hand at quarterback and with the offensive line. Nagy opted for a decent pass rate on early downs (9th) and while trailing (13th), plus uses shotgun a lot and targets the middle of the field (5th). There are a few things holding him back from jumping into Tier 3, however. The Bears weren’t aggressive enough on fourth downs (23rd) and didn't use play action (27th) or pre-snap motion (30th) nearly enough. Maybe the quarterback change sparks change.

Bears: Use play action! Just try it! I promise you'll like it. 

Did Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes' mega-deal actually leave money on table?

Did Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes' mega-deal actually leave money on table?

Patrick Mahomes forever altered the sports contract landscape with his landmark 10-year, $450 million extension that became official this week. It made all the sense in the world to lock up the 2018 MVP whose team could very easily be coming off back-to-back Super Bowl titles if not for a nail-biting loss to the eventual-champion Patriots in the 2019 AFC Championship game. But Brad Spielberger, who does extensive salary cap research and writing for OverTheCap.com, believes Mahomes could have massively cashed in again if he took a different approach to these negotiations

Coming in, we knew this was going to be a groundbreaking deal in some respects... I really didn’t think he was going to give up that many years of control – it’s basically a lifetime contract. Again, I know it’s maybe up to half a billion dollars, so it sounds crazy to maybe question his thinking there, but in 5, 6, 7 years down the road, he probably could have gotten another deal that would have made this one look small in comparison.

Every team in the league would love this deal… every front office in the NFL would say, the fact that they have this much time on this deal is the best part about it. Again, it’s a monstrous deal and there are outs at certain points so it’s not so strict as to say he can’t get out of it or he can’t work with it. If I’m his agent, I would push for 5 years, $200M fully guaranteed; let’s go mega-Kirk Cousins on steroids, let’s change the game, and then let’s see if we can sign a deal for $50M a year when that one runs out.

The scenario painted there is an interesting one, and might have allowed Mahomes to reset the quarterback market twice in a decade… but we’ll never know. For more from Spielberger, including how the Mahomes deal impacts the Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson negotiations and what the Bears’ offseason moves tell him about the mindset of Ryan Pace’s front office, listen to the most recent edition of the Under Center podcast here or below.