This past offseason the Chicago Bears defense took some tough hits to their depth chart. Nowhere more so than at inside linebacker. Both Nick Kwiatkoski and Kevin Pierre-Louis left in free agency and are starter elsewhere. They did a great job filling in for the injured Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan last season. Did the Bears have anybody capable of filling in if either of those guys went down again?

Many people weren’t sure. Joel Iyiegbuniwe is a quality special teams player but hasn’t shown much on defense. Josh Woods is a decent backup but hasn’t seen much action. It appears the Bears weren’t entirely comfortable with their depth either. Last week they worked out a number of veterans including former 1st round pick Deone Bucannon and former Heisman finalist Manti Te’o.

No move was made initially. 

However, that changed after kicker Kai Forbath was poached off the practice squad by the Los Angeles Rams. The Bears quickly reached a deal with Te’o, who returns close to his stomping ground at Notre Dame. He’ll take Forbath’s spot on the squad with a possible eye towards joining the main roster at some point this season.

Chicago Bears are getting a very smart player

Te’o is a good football player. He was a terror for the Irish in his college days. What constantly stood out about him was his intelligence and instincts. He always seemed to know what the opposing offense was doing before the snap and got into position to make plays. Once he got to the NFL it became clear what his ceiling was though.

He had trouble staying healthy and wasn’t the most athletic guy in the world. Te’o missed 26 games during his four-season stint with the San Diego Chargers. He was a starter for the Saints in 2017 and played well, notching 62 tackles including seven for a loss. After that he was relegated to the bench, only appearing on a part-time basis in 2018 and 2019.

This is a solid move for the Chicago Bears.

Nobody will accuse Te’o of being a hidden gem with untapped star potential. He is the perfect backup. An experienced, intelligent veteran who should be able to step in during an emergency and play decent football. Exactly the same that was expected of Kwiatkoski and Pierre-Louis last season. He is fully capable of that.

Not he’s needed at the present time. Smith is in the midst of a Pro Bowl-caliber season. Easily the best of his career to this point. As for Trevathan, his 2020 didn’t start well at all but he appears to have settled himself. They remain one of the better inside linebacker tandems in the NFL. Hopefully, Te’o won’t be needed in any capacity this year.

If nothing else this is a pretty cool story. The 29-year old gets to return home to where he made his name and play for one of the best defenses in the NFL. Perhaps he’ll get a shot at his former team in a couple of weeks when the Bears play the Saints.