Who's In, Who's Out: Assessing Early Cuts and Predicting The Bears' 53-Man Roster

Who's In, Who's Out: Assessing Early Cuts and Predicting The Bears' 53-Man Roster
Browns coach Mike Pettine talks with Bears coach Marc Trestman postgame. (Jason Miller / Getty Images)

The Bears left Cleveland late Thursday night and on Friday they already started the process of trimming down their roster. However, they don't officially need to get down to 53 players until Saturday's 3 p.m. CT deadline.

Among the first batch of cuts made by the Bears on Friday were running back Jordan Lynch, wide receiver Armanti Edwards, tight end Jeron Mastrud and linemen Robert Turner and Dennis Roland, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Lynch was the only player waived, while the rest of the bunch were released.

The Bears' roster is currently at 70 players, so they need to make 17 more cuts before tomorrow's deadline.

Lynch, a Chicago native made the switch to running back after starring at Northern Illinois as a solid passer and runner. He carried the ball 13 for 42 yards in two preseason appearances. Lynch will pass through waivers and if unclaimed, which is unlikely, the Bears would add him to their practice squad.

Edwards and Mastrud were both back of the roster players, who didn't impressive enough to warrant a roster spot. Turner was signed as Brian de la Puente returned to full strength.

Lastly, the towering Roland, who stands at a lengthy 6-foot-9 was competing with Eben Britton and Michael Ola for depth at tackle, but both are expected to be kept over him.

Keep in mind that with some of the players the Bears waive or release today or tomorrow that a good amount will be used for the now 10-man practice squad that will be formed Monday.

Predicting the 53-man roster

Quarterbacks (3): Jay Cutler, Jimmy Clausen and David Fales

Cutler and Clausen are the No. 1 and No. 2 obviously, but Fales, this year's sixth-round pick has a lot of promise. He's shown that plenty in his two appearances this preseason, including in all fourth quarters of Thursday night's game in Cleveland. Not many teams keep a third quarterback, but the Bears would be riding dangerous waters if they waived Fales. Even though the practice squad has two more spots for players this season in the NFL that also diminishes the chances of Fales going unclaimed if waived. All teams are always searching for talented quarterbacks and Fales has a bright future in this league. The Bears would be wise to keep him on the roster.

Running backs (4): Matt Forte, Shaun Draughn Ka’Deem Carey and Tony Fiammetta

As much as I've liked the play of Senorise Perry, the Bears have to be smart about their running back situation. Matt Forte is the star of the group with Draughn being somewhat of a veteran and Carey still working through some kinks. Fiammetta is a solid blocker in front of Forte and helped plenty last season. Perry has arguably outperformed Carey this preseason, but due to Carey's fourth-round status he gets the spot. Perry should be brought back to the practice squad if unclaimed, but that's a big if after teams saw how talented he was.

Wide receivers (6): Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Josh Morgan, Santonio Holmes, Marquess Wilson and Chris Williams

Holmes improved his stock plenty on Thursday night with his 32-yard touchdown grab and 30-yard punt return. He should quickly earn playing time alongside Marshall and Jeffery with Morgan serving mainly as a blocker. Wilson could end up with the injured reserve/designated to return, but for now he counts against the 53-man roster. Because of his abilities he is worth stashing. If he does go on the short-term IR, Josh Bellamy could be kept as the sixth receiver behind this group. Williams earns the nod over Michael Spurlock because he has been better on kick returns and has pure speed.

Tight ends (3): Martellus Bennett, Dante Rosario and Matthew Mulligan

I've said this before and I'll say it again, the tight end depth is still lacking for the Bears. Rosario is not a great option as the No. 2 tight end and Mulligan hasn't been that good this preseason. The Bears will be finding more talent at this position very soon, I can promise you that.

Offensive linemen (9): Jermon Bushrod, Matt Slauson, Roberto Garza, Kyle Long, Jordan Mills, Michael Ola, Brian de la Puente, Eben Britton and Charles Leno

The starters are set. de la Puente is healing up and will serve alongside two versatile backups in Ola and Britton. Leno is this year's seventh-round pick, who beat out Roland and likely Taylor Boggs because of his upside. Leno will spend most game days not in uniform. Boggs has been a favorite of the team's since coming over last off-season, so he could find a spot on the practice squad possibly.

Defensive linemen (10): Jared Allen, Jeremiah Ratliff, Stephen Paea, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young, Trevor Scott, Ego Ferguson, Will Sutton, Austen Lane and David Bass.

The depth at this position is dramatically better than a season ago. Ferguson and Sutton are two rookies, who will grow together and possibly turn into a dangerous tandem down the road. Lane is a journeyman, but has been rock solid all preseason, while Bass was on the outside looking in until last night's impressive performance. Bass and Lane edge out second-year man Cornelius Washington because of their smarts and strength off the edge. Washington might beat out Lane, but the Bears would be smart to have more depth on the backend of the rotation just in case. Plus, Washington is practice squad eligible.

Linebackers (6): Lance Briggs, D.J. Williams, Shea McClellin, Jonathan Bostic, Khaseem Greene, and Christian Jones.

Briggs could end up being the only full-time starter, while Williams, McClellin and Bostic will share time at the other two linebacker spots. Greene has shown improvement from year one and is a solid backup, while Jones will be a nice special teams piece and teachable rookie. Jerry Franklin and DeDe Lattimore both played okay in the preseason, but neither are anything more than special teams players. Franklin still has a slight chance of being brought back.

Cornerbacks (5): Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings, Kyle Fuller, Sherrick McManis, Kelvin Hayden

McManis and Hayden are high upside backups behind Tillman, Jennings and Fuller. McManis is going to be arguably the best special teams player. C.J. Wilson and Demontre Hurst, two special teams contributors a season ago have a chance to be around via the practice squad as well as rookie Al Louis-Jean.

Safeties (4): Ryan Mundy, Chris Conte, Danny McCray, Brock Vereen

The Bears could be searching for a fifth safety through the waiver wire as M.D. Jennings is likely the odd man out after not doing much this preseason, like he did with the Packers.

Special teams (3): Robbie Gould, Patrick O'Donnell, Brandon Hartson

The rookie punter O'Donnell has been worth the pick and is worthy of the starting spot. Hartson might be replaced at some point after appearing in a couple games in place of longtime snapper Patrick Mannelly last season

Thoughts on this projected 53-man roster?

Fales' spot is a difference maker. But with special teams looking for fresh and talented leaders his spot not might not be validated with that thinking. Also, Perry and Washington certainly have the talent to be around at some point this season.

 

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