Though we’re still waiting to hear what in the world is going on with Pernell McPhee, the Bears’ 53-man roster is almost completely set.
Here’s a few of notable cuts and roster moves of the day, along with a little 1-10 scale on how surprised I was (just for fun).
-did NOT see this one coming. Yes, he was expected to be on the bubble coming into camp, but there were a number of factors working in Mariani’s favor in his hunt for a roster spot: his rapport with Jay Cutler in the slot throughout last year, training camp injuries to Royal and Deonte Thompson, Daniel Braverman’s lack of in-game production (more on that here), and his comfort as a punt returner.
In the end, none of these advantages was enough to keep the journeyman wideout/return man around. He didn’t make many plays this preseason and just generally isn’t as good of an athlete as Royal, Josh Bellamy, or Cameron Meredith, who have been more productive targets in camp thusfar.
Though Royal was a candidate for a possible surprise cut himself, Mariani and Braverman didn’t do enough to make the Bears think that his production—however limited it was last year—and $4.5 million in guaranteed money was enough to throw aside. Keep in mind, however, that after Week 1, veteran contracts like Mariani’s are non-guaranteed, which means it’s not impossible that he could return.
Clearly, the Bears value the experience of former Steeler Mike Adams at this point as a swing tackle, hence why he was kept and Williams was cut. Because if we’re talking about performance, I’m not so sure about that.
Williams actually played well after struggling a bit in Week 1, even nabbing a nomination as one of the best offensive linemen in the preseason according to PFF.
Top graded players this preseason (by position)
OT: Garry Williams, CHI
G: Cole Toner, AZ
C: Travis Frederick, DAL
FB: Jalston Fowler, TEN
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) August 30, 2016
He also had the ability to play guard in a pinch, which could certainly be of use to the Bears right now. Perhaps his injury history (broken ankle in 2011, a torn ACL and MCL in 2013, a back issue in 2014 and a hyperextended elbow in 2015) worked against him here, or maybe the Bears just didn’t view his performance the same way as everyone else.
-Timu was mostly a casualty of numbers at linebacker. Given a debate between Timu and Jonathan Anderson, the latter is the more well-rounded and athletic player, displaying more ability in coverage and more sideline-to-sideline speed.
That’s not to say that Timu is bad; he made his share of plays as well, but he left too many plays on the table, particularly due to missed tackles like this…
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) September 2, 2016
Expect him to have a good shot at landing on the Bears’ practice squad and perhaps have a chance to contribute later in the season. He’s a good player with special teams value that’s worth trying to develop.
-The writing on the wall for this move actually started appearing in the dress rehearsal against Kansas City. Ka’Deem Carey had clearly taken over the backup RB role from Rodgers by that point and did nothing to think he wouldn’t hold onto it. Rodgers had a few ineffectual running players before eventually giving way to Howard, who, as he has throughout the preseason, showed impressive vision and power on his carries.
Fast-forward to Thursday tilt against the Browns, and the rookie not only entered the game first behind Carey, but took the third running back spot by the throat with a commanding 100+ yard performance. Not only that, but Howard also made a big play in the passing game and drew praise for his blocking.
At that point, what did you need Rodgers for? He simply wasn’t doing enough to stick around.
Truthfully, I’m surprised this too so long. Fales hasn’t done much of anything since being drafted as a protege of Marc Trestman (which should tell you something).
It took all of five minutes of Connor Shaw to come in and blow past Fales as in the competition for the third QB spot. In fact, the difference was so glaring that Fales couldn’t even get on the field against the Chiefs, even when Shaw went out with an injury. The Bears preferred to put in Brian Hoyer, who was miserable up to the point and had left the game with sore ribs, instead.
Then to top it off, Fales was pathetic Thursday, completing 4 of 10 passes for 69 yards (56 yards came on two plays that were mostly due to YAC by Howard and Paul Lasike). The Bears likely can stash him on the practice squad, but if you ask me, there’s no point. He’s never going to be anything of consequence for the Bears.
Here’s his most memorable play of the preseason…
That's the SIXTH sack for the defending @SuperBowl champs tonight.
— NFL (@NFL) August 12, 2016
-Undrafted rookie Ben Braunecker (Harvard) and veteran tight ends Rob Housler and Tony Moeaki were released today as well, leaving the tight end position potentially threadbare. Housler and Moeaki, like Mariani, might get another look after the season starts and their contracts aren’t guaranteed, and Braunecker is a very likely candidate for the practice squad if he clears waivers.
That said, are we really going into the season with only Khari Lee (represent!) and Gregg Scruggs behind Zach Miller, who seems about as likely to play all 16 regular season games for the Bears as I am?
It’ll be interesting to see if the Bears look for someone on the waiver wire here. Jace Amaro’s a young talented tight end that just got released by the Jets. Maybe that’s someone that could get a look…
-PLEASE get Josh Sitton on the phone. The All-Pro guard was just released today by the Green Bay Packers, possibly due to a contract dispute. He’ll probably be an expensive player, but according to Spotrac, the Bears do have about $19 million in estimated cap space right now…
Sitton, if healthy, instantly makes the Bears line better, especially rookie left guard Cody Whitehair. That could put Ted Larsen back as a swing interior lineman where he belongs instead of starting at center. If there’s any possibility that he might play here, Ryan Pace had better stay on Sitton’s phone line and not hang up.
-Go Paul Lasike! Thursday was all he needed to prove to the Bears that they should keep a fullback on the roster. He threw some strong blocks for Carey and Howard and delivered this gem.
Paul Lasike is a BEAST.
— NFL (@NFL) September 2, 2016
Well done, big guy.