The Chicago Bears have played two preseason games with one to go. While some roster spots might still be up for grabs, this is normally the time where head coach Matt Nagy and his staff should have a pretty good idea of what the final 53 will look like. There remains a possibility that some outside help may yet come in but that is difficult to predict. As things stand? There aren’t a lot of lingering question marks left.
So it’s time to take stock. What will the final roster look like for this team going into September? Below is a comprehensive projection of every single position group, who is in, who is out, and why. There may be a few surprises. Often due to depth concerns or special teams requirements.
Chicago Bears roster projection as preseason winds down
In: Andy Dalton, Justin Fields, and Nick Foles
No surprises here. Dalton remains the starter according to Nagy with Fields as his primary backup. Under normal circumstances, Foles likely would be an easy cut candidate but his contract makes that impossible. The only way he gets off the roster is if somebody trades for him. That may still happen but the odds don’t favor it at this point. This will mark the first time the Bears roll into a season with three QBs instead of two since 2017.
In: David Montgomery, Damien Williams, and Khalil Herbert
Out: Artavis Pierce, C.J. Marable, and Ryan Nall
PUP: Tarik Cohen
Montgomery is the unquestioned starter. The big surprise is how good Herbert has looked so far this preseason. He might push for more of Williams’ snaps than people think. Pierce, Marable, and Nall have failed to make any meaningful mark in both camp and games. As for Cohen? There are no signs of him being activated any time soon. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Bears leave him on the PUP list for the first six games of the season in order to continue healing that knee.
In: Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, Marquise Goodwin, Damiere Byrd, Dazz Newsome, and Rodney Adams
Out: Javon Wims, Riley Ridley, Chris Lacy, Jon’Vea Johnson, and Isaiah Coulter*
This is the one position that may see the Chicago Bears brass do some tinkering with on the waiver wire. The top four names are all locks for this season. Adams has been the preseason star with a couple of big catches but even he has issues hanging onto the football consistently. The position group as a whole hasn’t impressed with Robinson and Mooney not playing much. That speaks to a significant depth concern. Adams may not last long. Keep in mind Chicago just signed Coulter, a former 5th round pick from last year. So he is somebody to watch.
Isaiah Coulter signing with Chicago Bears, per a league source
— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) August 22, 2021
In: Cole Kmet, Jimmy Graham, and Jesse James
Out: J.P. Holtz, Jesper Horsted, and Scooter Harrington
Usually, the Bears prefer to roll with four tight ends each year. This might be that rare occasion where they don’t have to. The trio of Kmet, Graham, and James has every base covered in terms of receiving and blocking ability. There really isn’t a reason to carry a fourth on the main roster when any one of Holtz, Horsted, and Harrington can easily be stashed on the practice squad in case of emergencies.
In: Jason Peters, Cody Whitehair, Sam Mustipher, James Daniels, Germain Ifedi, Larry Borom, Alex Bars, Arlington Hambright, Lachavious Simmons
Out: Elijah Wilkinson, Tyrone Wheatly Jr., Badara Traore, Dieter Eiselen, Adam Redmond, and Dareuan Parker
IR: Teven Jenkins
This is a tale of two areas. The Bears O-line looks strong on the inside both in terms of their starting three and also the backups with Bars and Hambright. A bigger concern lay at the tackle spots. Jenkins is out. Peters is 39-years old. Ifedi still isn’t back from a hip injury and Borom is a rookie. Simmons has played every preseason snap and hasn’t really impressed. Tons of question marks. They may still end up being fine but it is an area that could hamper the offense moving forward.
In: Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Bilal Nichols, Mario Edwards Jr., Khyiris Tonga, and Angelo Blackson
Out: Mike Pennel, Daniel Archibong, and LaCale London
This is easily the best position group on the entire team. Pace has some faults as a GM. Finding good defensive linemen is not one of them. The starting trio of Hicks, Goldman, and Nichols should be really good this season. Health permitting. After that Edwards, Tonga, and Blackson have all played well in the preseason. So have Archibong and Pennel. Unfortunately, there are only so many spots available. One of them is almost certain to land on the practice squad.
— Tulsa Football (@TulsaFootball) August 22, 2021
In: Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn, Trevis Gipson, and Jeremiah Attaochu
Out: Charles Snowden, Sam Kamara, and James Vaughters
This position group is proving to be far more competitive than expected. Mack and Quinn were always locks. The same goes for Attaochu. What has surprised is the fierce battle going on between Gipson, Snowden, and Vaughters. All of whom played well through the first two games of the preseason. Gipson has the advantage as the team’s former 5th round pick last year and his strong game against Buffalo which included a strip-sack. Snowden and Kamara are definite practice squad priorities.
In: Roquan Smith, Danny Trevathan, Alec Ogletree, Christian Jones, and Joel Iyiegbuniwe
Out: Josh Woods, Caleb Johnson, and Austin Calitro
No position probably underwent a bigger swing over the past two weeks than inside linebacker. This due to the arrival of Ogletree who seized a roster spot from the moment he stepped on the field. Along with Jones, the Chicago Bears depth at that spot is significantly improved. The question is whether they will carry a fifth guy or not. Given the problems they’ve had on special teams lately, keeping Iyiegbuniwe would make sense given that is his area of expertise. Johnson really played well so far this preseason and should be an easy pick for the practice squad.
In: Jaylon Johnson, Kindle Vildor, Desmond Trufant, Artie Burns, Duke Shelley, and Thomas Graham Jr.
Out: Tre Roberson and Xavier Crawford
There aren’t a lot of good vibe at cornerback right now. Not after what the Bills did to them on Saturday. Guys were running free all game long. Johnson is by far the best they have. Everybody else? Underwhelming. Burns and Graham Jr. seem to have stepped up lately, which is encouraging. Perhaps the Bears might look for outside help before the season. Roberson did some good things too but not quite enough to overtake anybody. He should stick around on the practice squad.
In: Eddie Jackson, Tashaun Gipson, Deon Bush, DeAndre Houston-Carson, and Marqui Christian
Out: Teez Tabor and Jordan Lucas
Are the Bears’ safeties good? They should be. Either way, they definitely look deep at least. Jackson and Gipson were a solid pair last year while Bush and Houston-Carson are good backups and core special teamers. The big winner here is Christian who stood out in training camp and did enough this preseason to make his case for a fifth spot. Tabor made a run at it too and he may yet stick around but that is the likely lineup if the defense carries five as expected.
In: Cairo Santos, Pat O’Donnell, and Patrick Scales
Out: Brian Johnson
The same trio as last year. A welcome sign of stability in the third phase for the Chicago Bears. Where it gets interesting is the status of Johnson. He looked good in camp and has hit field goals of 44 and 54 yards in the preseason. The kid has talent. It will be interesting to see if the team tries to sneak him onto the practice squad or maybe even trade him.