Chicago Bears Should Put Nick Kwiatkoski on Season-Ending IR

May 25, 2016; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (44) during the OTA practice at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
May 25, 2016; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (44) during the OTA practice at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Bears have a crowded group at linebacker, here’s how they can make it a little less full.

The Chicago Bears new look defense has plenty of fresh faces. GM Ryan Pace continues to give Vic Fangio more pieces to work with as he grows his defense. The key to Fangio’s defense is the linebacking corps. The Bears have quickly tried to bring in as much talent at that position as possible. That injection of talent has left very little room for some of the new players to see the field. At this point, the best option for one of those players, Nick Kwiatkoski, is to place him on season-ending IR.

Several analysts were excited about the prospects of Kwiatkoski when the Bears drafted him in the fourth round in the spring. Kwiatkoski plays with a lot of passion and is the type of player that Bears’ fans love to cheer. Unfortunately for the rookie, he has been limited by a hamstring injury and has rarely been on the field.

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Make no mistake about it, the Bears linebacker position is crowded. There is only a limited number of spots and too many legitimate options available. We know these players are locks: Pernell McPhee, Danny Trevathan, Jerrell Freeman, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young, and Leonard Floyd. We also know the Bears are big fans of Sam Acho and Roy Robertson-Harris. Christian Jones is a solid linebacker and the Bears like what they have seen out of Jonathan Anderson, John Timu, and Lamin Barrow.

That’s 12 linebackers. With the addition of Kwiatkoski, that’s 13. Odds are, the Bears are only going to keep nine linebackers on the roster, which means four of these guys won’t crack the 53-man roster.

With that many different contributors at linebacker, Kwiatkoski is never going to see the field this year. The Bears aren’t in a position to give roster spots to developing players on the bench. With Kwiatkoski struggling with a hamstring injury, the Bears could easily place him on season-ending IR and in essence give him a red shirt year.

The Bears could also put Roy Robertson-Harris on the practice squad. He has great athleticism and the Bears would love to see what he can do, but he needs some developmental time and that makes a lot more sense than giving him a roster spot or releasing him completely.

That gives the Bears a year with the group of linebackers to have a better idea of who would factor into the team’s future plans and not really lose any developmental time with Kiwatkoski. Even without Robertson-Harris and Kwiatkoski on the active roster, the Bears still have 11 LBs which is still two too many.

That’s where someone like Christian Jones, a non-Pace player, could find himself on the cutting block when it’s time to narrow the roster down to the final 53 players. The Bears will have some tough decisions at linebacker coming up over the next couple weeks. Alleviating some of those decisions by putting Kwiatkoski on injured reserve makes too much sense to pass up.

Kwiatkoski could still develop into a solid NFL player, but he hasn’t been able to give the Bears any indication if he can contribute as a rookie due to his hamstring injury. The Bears would be foolish to cut loose a fourth round pick because he’s been injured during much of the preseason. Shutting him down for the year and giving him another shot in 2017 makes too much sense for the Bears and for Kwiatkoski’s development.

Bill Zimmerman is an editor and featured writer for FanSided‘s BearGogglesOn. Like his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter for more news and interaction.