There were a lot of interesting stories about the 2020 Chicago Bears. One that got swept away almost immediately was the saga of Marqui Christian. After a solid run with the Los Angeles Rams, he became a free agent. Despite a two-game suspension for violating the league policies, the Bears signed the safety on August 12th. They soon released him and moved him over to the practice squad.
The plan was clear enough at that point. Get him acquainted with the system and perhaps elevate him to the main roster at some point during the regular season. Christian was ready to go along with that. Then things changed. The New York Jets came calling with an offer to join their main roster in September. Unable to resist the chance to play right away, Christian accepted the deal. According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, he quickly realized he never should’ve left.
“There was a lot going on with the Jets,” Christian said. “When I got there, I played the first game and I was trying to learn the playbook and there was so much turmoil. They made me feel wanted here. It just felt like family. When I came back from New York, the first day back, the players, the coaches, it was like, ‘Man, where you been? It’s good to have you back.’ It was a better place to be.”
It’s fair to wonder where Christian would be now had he stayed.
He returned to the Bears practice squad in October and was eventually elevated to the main roster for the playoff game in New Orleans. Would he have cracked the lineup sooner had he not spent a month having a cup of coffee in New York? Possibly. He might not be on the outside of the team’s roster battle at safety right now. Not that this has discouraged him. He’s putting in plenty of work with that goal in mind.
In fact, he may have an edge for other players. One reason is his special teams value. Christian proved in Los Angeles that he is a capable contributor in the third phase. Not only that, but he’s also been putting in work at nickel corner during practices. Another sign of his underrated versatility. Despite what happened last year he still has a chance to help the Bears this season.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 18, 2019
Aside from the tough task of covering one of the hottest tight ends in Austin Hooper, Marqui Christian was outstanding in all areas of his game on Sunday. This tackle on Freeman is a big time play. pic.twitter.com/0MUaoEhlAq
— JAKE ELLENBOGEN (@JKBOGEN) October 23, 2019
Marqui Christian has plenty of hurdles to clear
Right now the safety position seems pretty secure. Eddie Jackson and Tashaun Gipson are the starters. Deon Bush and DeAndre Houston-Carson should be the primary backups. The question for the Bears will be whether they want to carry a fifth safety or not. If they do, then Christian should be considered the favorite for that spot. If not? Then the path to a roster spot becomes much tougher.
The nickel corner position is an even bigger challenge. Duke Shelley and Thomas Graham Jr. are currently battling for that job and have far more experience playing it. Marqui Christian is in a somewhat difficult spot. He has the capability to play multiple roles but the Bears seem somewhat deep in the key areas where he’d be a premier fit. So their best move would be to reserve an extra spot for him.
That might be asking a lot.
Things change fast though. Christian will likely have a prime opportunity to make an impression in the preseason. The Bears have made it clear they’re going to give guys the green light to get after it this month. If he can deliver two or three standout plays? Then his odds of making the cut go up significantly.