GM Ryan Poles said after the draft that he wasn’t done making changes to the Chicago Bears roster. He’s been a man of his word thus far. Not only did he add a fresh face at tight end in Rysen John, but he also secured two veteran receivers in Tajae Sharpe and Dante Pettis. The first-year executive is not resting on his laurels. He is churning the bottom of the roster, trying to find any possible way he can upgrade.
Based on a recent update from another executive, it sounds like he’ll have even more opportunities a couple of months from now. Albert Breer of the MMQB has heard plenty of buzz about the 2022 draft class. Lots of it was positive, but one statement caught him by surprise. Based on initial estimates, there is a strong likelihood that more than a few players that were drafted in April may not stay with their current teams beyond August.
I thought this was interesting, from an AFC exec last week, because it reflected a sentiment I started hearing more and more the closer we got to the draft: “For all the talk about how ‘deep’ this draft was, there really wasn’t much quality in that depth. By the fourth round, it was very thin. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a significant number of draft picks that come available on waivers at cut-down time.”
That is amazing to think about.
Given how most people treat draft picks, it’s almost like they’re precious gold bullion. In truth, draft picks getting cut happens more frequently than some realize. It happened last year. Dez Fitzpatrick (4th round, Titans), Cornell Powell (5th round, Chiefs), and Quincy Roche (6th round, Steelers) are a few examples. Often this is either due to the players not performing well in training camp, getting into trouble, or an undrafted free agent making a better impression.
This doesn’t mean those players are worthless. The Bears have taken advantage of such moves in the past. In 1976, a 10th round safety out of Yale named Gary Fencik was cut by Miami after an injury sidelined him in the preseason. Chicago picked him up a few weeks later. He’d become a defensive captain, two-time Pro Bowler, and a centerpiece of their iconic 1985 championship team.
Chicago Bears still have plenty of needs.
Nobody in their right mind would think this roster is anywhere close to complete. Just a few glances around the depth chart can spot areas needing help. They still don’t have a definitive answer at right guard following the departure of James Daniels. While Justin Jones might be the presumed three-technique defensive tackle, he wasn’t the Bears’ first choice. So they could look for options there. Last but not least, there are still lingering concerns at linebacker outside of Roquan Smith and Nicholas Morrow.
Poles already made 11 picks in the draft. That means he had eyes on plenty of young prospects. There could be an opportunity to grab even more he might’ve wanted. The Chicago Bears sit seventh on the waiver wire priority list. So he’ll have a premium opportunity to claim such players and have a reasonable chance of landing them.
Another reason to remember is that this roster is still fluid.
One added bit of intrigue is whether the Bears themselves might cut any of their draft picks. Keeping all 11 makes sense since they’re in a rebuilding phase, but don’t forget they also signed several undrafted free agents. If any of them perform above expectations, there is a chance sacrifices will be needed.