Chicago Bears Roster Moves
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
The Bears made a flurry of roster moves today which I’ll cover in detail below. The Bears roster is now at it’s 90-man limit, so we may not see a day like this with 6 roster moves, but there will be many more changes to the roster before opening day as the Bears new management team cuts dead weight from the roster that former GM Phil Emery built and brings in talent that better fits their vision for the 2015 Chicago Bears. Here is my breakdown of today’s roster moves:
Bears release LB Khaseem Greene
After a wildly productive college career which included Big East Defensive Player of the Year and ESPN All-American awards, Greene seemed like a steal for the Bears in the 4th round of the 2013 draft. It didn’t turn out to be the case as Greene racked up a negative 9.6 grade in six starts over the last two years (Pro Football Focus). Greene didn’t do much on special teams either with just 4 tackles in two years of kick coverage. He is a classic tweener, too small to be a factor against the run and too slow to be an effective coverage linebacker. Greene didn’t show any pass rush instincts either in his two years with the Bears (0 sacks), so it’s not a big surprise they let him go. Not surprisingly Greene has already been signed by Lovie Smith and the Tampa Bay Bucs.
Bears release DE Austen Lane
He showed some flashes of pass rush ability in the 2014 pre-season, but never saw the field for the Bears during the regular season. Lane is a 4-3 DE and wouldn’t have been a good fit in the Bears new 3-4 scheme. Hopefully Lane catches on somewhere as he could be useful as a rotational pass rusher in the right situation.
Bears sign DT Terry Williams
The Swamp Monster! I had Williams pegged as the best of the rookie mini-camp invites and it seems the Bears agreed as they signed him to a contract earlier today. With 2nd round pick Eddie Goldman and Williams, the Bears suddenly have about 700 pounds of nose tackles who could drastically improve the Bears run defense this season. I am higher on Williams than most, but if he can improve his effort level and stamina he could be a solid rotational NT with the upside to be a play-maker inside.
Bears sign OLB Kyle Woestmann
He just missed my list of impact unsigned rookies (#6) due to the fact that I thought his lack of speed (4.91) would keep him from being a legit OLB candidate for the Bears. He only played OLB for one season at Vanderbilt and struggled a bit after a successful junior year at DE (6 sacks). Woestmann has excellent size for an OLB (6’3 | 250) and superb football instincts. He reads plays well, has a knack for being around the ball, and is a sure tackler. Woestmann was also a leader and team captain of the Commodores defense which seems like a trend among the Bears undrafted targets this year. The Bears new regime is not only trying to improve the talent on the field, but the leadership in the locker room as well.
Bears sign QB Pat Devlin
Devlin is a technically a rookie since he hasn’t taken any NFL snaps at QB, but he was on the Dolphins practice squad since 2011 before spending the 2014 season on the Vikings practice squad. He started his college career at Penn St before finishing his career at Delaware where he threw for 5,696 and 38 TDs (12 INTs) over his last two seasons. Most draftniks had Devlin being drafted at some point on day 3, but he wasn’t and has bounced around practice squads since.
Devlin has good size (6’3 | 225), a quick release, decent athleticism, and good accuracy on throws within 25 yards. Coming out of college he was considered one of the best in his draft class at progressing through reads, looking off safeties, and throwing receivers open. On paper it’s surprising that Devlin hasn’t gotten a chance to play in the NFL yet with such a shortage of decent QBs, but the Bears are going to give him a shot to compete with David Fales and Shane Carden for the 3rd QB spot.
Bears sign TE Chris Pantale
Probably would have been drafted in 2013 if not for a broken foot his senior season at Boston College. Pantale ended up being signed as a priority free agent by the New York Jets and has been on the Jets practice squad the last two seasons. He lacks elite athleticism but is a solid inline blocker who has good hands and is a strong runner after the catch.
Pantale isn’t the next Jimmy Graham, but he could possibly be an upgrade over Dante Rosario as a guy who can be a plus blocker in the run game, get open on short-to-intermediate routes, and catch the ball when it’s thrown his way. He’s so similar to Rosario actually that it may come down to which of the two players contributes more on special teams.