The Chicago Bears know a lot is riding on this 2021 roster. A lot of jobs will be at stake if they get its composition wrong. So it’s a safe bet that certain players who might’ve been safe under normal circumstances may not be safe now. This is the sort of year where there could be a number of unexpected cuts as the team searches hard for difference-makers.
Kyle Fuller set the tone early with his exit. That situation was money-driven. So who are some names that could follow his path out of town that some fans may not be expecting Here are four that should consider themselves in more danger than they probably realize. Either due to a crowded depth chart or having failed to stand out enough.
Chicago Bears who could be surprise cuts by this August
Anthony Miller is already looking like he’s out. Javon Wims probably isn’t too far behind him. It appears the entire bottom 3/4 of the Bears wide receiver depth chart could be turned over this offseason. That includes their 4th round pick from 2019. Chicago has waited patiently for Ridley to show them something since he arrived three years ago. Thus far they clearly haven’t been impressed with what they’ve seen.
He barely made it onto the roster last season, and that was only because the Bears chose to carry seven wide receivers. It didn’t matter. Ridley ended up playing just 41 snaps all year. Even less than the 108 he managed as a rookie. The fact he couldn’t beat out Wims for playing time is as telling as it gets. Unless he flashes something more this summer, don’t expect his draft status to protect him this time around.
Sadly it doesn’t look like Iyiegbuniwe will follow in the footsteps of Nick Kwiatkoski and go from backup to pushing for a starting job. The former 4th rounder has gotten numerous chances to log snaps on defense and has never stood out during those instances. His primary value has remained squarely on special teams. He better hope that’s enough.
Remember that the Chicago Bears only carried four inside linebackers last season on defense. They currently have five on the roster following the addition of veteran Christian Jones. Not only is he far more proven as a defensive player from his previous stint in Chicago and years in Detroit, but he also has plenty of special teams experience. This could mean it’s between Iyiegbuniwe and Josh Woods for that final spot.
The Bears have already proven they’re not afraid to cut 7th round picks or let them go to other teams shortly after they’re drafted. Kerrith Whyte was plucked off their practice squad by Pittsburgh the same year he was taken. Tayo Fabuluje, a 6th rounder in 2015, was gone after one year. The same goes for Jordan Morgan, a 5th rounder in 2017. This should illustrate what Simmons is up against.
Just because he was drafted by the Bears last year means nothing. They already have four guys on the interior of the offensive line who are going to make the roster in Cody Whitehair, James Daniels, Sam Mustipher, and Alex Bars. This means only one spot remains on the active roster and Simmons’ fellow 7th rounder Arlington Hambright proved he was ahead of him by playing actual snaps in 2020. Perhaps the practice squad might save him again this year, but even that isn’t a guarantee.
Charles Leno Jr.
This is the biggest long shot of the bunch. However, it also shouldn’t be ignored. There are whispers that the Bears could be adding an offensive tackle early in this upcoming draft. Even in the 1st round. Does that automatically mean they’ll just stash him behind Leno and wait until next year? Not exactly. There could be a competition and Leno will have to defend his job.
That leads to the next question. Even if the rookie were to beat him out, why not keep Leno as a backup? While that is a logical move, there is a benefit to dumping him immediately. By cutting him after June 1st, the Bears would secure an additional $9 million in cap space. Not only would that give them flexibility for the season, it would also be space they could then roll over into 2022. They could then sign another veteran to slot behind the rookie as depth.