With training camp finally underway, the Chicago Bears are making some last-minute moves to improve the bottom end of the roster and adding depth where needed. I’ll break down the Bears roster moves over the last week and how they affect the team.
The Bears started the week by re-signed Bears legend Charles Tillman on a one-day deal, so he could retire with the team that he spent twelve years with and owns the team record for most forced fumbles with 44. It was a feel-good move for the team that should send a message to Bears veterans that the new leadership respects the contributions of the past.
On a negative note, the Bears placed some key players on the active/physically unable to perform list. Pernell McPhee, Aminu Silatolu, and Marquess Wilson were all placed on the list this week. During training camp players can be moved off the preseason PUP list at any time, so this shouldn’t be to worrying for Bears fans.
McPhee may miss some preseason games, but should be ready by the start of the season. Silatolu is coming off an ACL tear last season, but has a chance to be ready by week one. WR Wilson, who is recovering from a broken foot, has the most serious injury which may cause him to miss a few games and put his roster spot in jeopardy.
In order to make up for the loss of a few players to injury, the Bears made a couple of additions to the roster. One in particular that could have a long-term impact on the team. The Bears signed CB Brandon Boykin who played with the Pittsburgh Steelers last year. Despite being one of the most talented players in the Steelers secondary, Boykin’s playing time decreased for Pittsburgh. Many thought it was due to a feud with the Steelers coaching staff. He didn’t see significant playing time until week 13 and played well once he did with just a 65 passer rating allowed the last three weeks.
Pro Football Focus ranked Boykin as one of the eight best free agent corners going into the offseason but it took until the end of July for anyone to sign him. In 2013 with the Eagles, Boykin was Pro Football Focus’s top rated slot corner. He had six interceptions, 17 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles, and a 76-yard interception return. He was exactly the type of play-making corner that the Bears need in their secondary.
When Chip Kelly took over as the Eagles head coach in 2014, Boykin lost playing time and then moved to the Steelers in 2015 where he also had a hard time seeing the field. Boykin has feuded with two coaches in a row, which could be the reason that he’s lasted this long without a contract.
The Bears have promising slot corner Bryce Callahan at the top of the depth chart, but Boykin has more experience, is a proven playmaker, adds some much-needed veteran depth to the Bears secondary, and is still in his prime at just 26 years old.
The Bears also signed WR B.J. Daniels to replace the injured Marquess Wilson, but he lacks the experience or talent of Boykin. Daniels was a former QB out of South Florida who was drafted by the Niners in 7th round of the 2013 draft. After being released by San Fran, Daniels was picked up by the Seahawks and converted to wide receiver. He spent two seasons with the Seahawks appearing in six games and catching two passes.
Since then he has spent time with the Texans and Giants before ending up on the Bears this season. Daniels is 5’11, 222 pounds with a 40-time as low as 4.52. He’s not a burner, but is well-built and can be a load to bring down in the open field. He’s a long-shot to make the Bears as a receiver but has legitimate skills with the ball in his hands and could earn a spot on the Bears as a return man or slot receiver.
The Bears also re-signed undrafted free agent guard Dan Buchholz out of Duquesne. They released him a few weeks ago after signing rookie G/C Donovan Williams, but with the retirement of Nate Chandler the Bears needed some more o-line depth. The Bears also released punter Ben Lecompte out of Noth Dakota St, who was the only camp competition for Pat O’Donnell.