Bears Pass on Available Secondary Upgrades

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The Bears coaching staff has been transparent about their lack of secondary depth all offseason, but with teams cutting their rosters down to 53 players over the weekend the Bears signed just one corner released by another team. That makes some sense as teams rarely release corners good enough to play in the league, but there were a few other players released for salary cap reasons who theoretically can still play in the league. There were also rumors off a corner or two too good to release that were available via trade.

Instead the Bears basically stood pat adding just one corner to their roster, rookie Cre’Von LeBlanc from the Pats, and no new corners to their practice squad. They even released promising 6’2 corner DeVante Bausby, though were lucky enough to add him to the practice squad once he cleared waivers.

One reason for their lack of activity was the return to practice of projected starters Kyle Fuller, Tracy Porter, and slot corner Bryce Callahan this week. That gives the Bears some stability with last year’s starters presumably all available for the Bears week one match-up with the Houston Texans. None of those players made the Pro Bowl last year and are all considered question marks to not only stay healthy but play well.

Rookie Deiondre Hall, 2nd-year player Jacoby Glenn, and recently signed rookie Cre’Von LeBlanc will be the Bears primary back-ups. Hall showed the ability to be a red-zone stopper with his length and long arms, Glenn flashed some speed and aggressiveness in the preseason, and LeBlanc is a physical slot corner who  lacks height (5’11) but at 196 pounds is well built and has the strength to jam receivers in the slot.

All three of these guys could be good, but they are all raw and have yet to prove anything in the league. Adding an experienced corner, like the Bears did last year with Tracy Porter, could have given the Bears a safety-valve if one (or more) of the starter got hurt and the young corners weren’t ready.

So who was available that the Bears passed on? It doesn’t really matter now since most of these players have already been signed or traded for, but at least we can look back later and evaluate who Pace decided the Bears didn’t need.

Vets cut due to cap concerns:

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

CB Sterling Moore (signed by Saints) – A former UDFA signed by the Raiders in 2011 who didn’t see much playing time (3 starts) until 2014, when he appeared in all 16 games for the Cowboys as a slot corner. Pro Football Focus graded Moore in the top 20% of all corners with enough snaps to qualify. For the season he finished with 50 tackles, 13 passes defended, and two fumble recoveries. Moore started nine games for the Bucs last year, grading out in the top 50% of the league’s corners (PFF) and had 1 interception, 45 tackles, and 6 pass defenses.

He’s a veteran slot corner who has started almost twenty games in the league, consistently grading out as a better than average corner, and would have given the Bear some insurance if Bryce Callahan is still hurt or his rookie season was a fluke. Moore signed a veteran minimum one-year deal that would have had a negligible impact on the Bears cap space. Not sure why the Bears wouldn’t be interested in a solid veteran slot corner with no financial risk? They gave Alan Ball $3M last year and he didn’t have half the track record of More.

S Antonio Allen (Jets) – The Bears are apparently comfortable starting two 2nd year players at safety (Amos, Jones-Quartey) with two rookies and Chirs Prosinski as backups, but I wouldn’t be.

Amos was impressive as a rookie, but didn’t make many difference-making plays. Jones-Quartey flashed athleticism, but also made a ton of mistakes which can be expected from a player who was lining up for Findlay College two seasons ago.

Allen missed all of the 2015 season with an Achilles injury but before that was a significant contributor for the Jets appearing in 31 games with 17 starts the two prior seasons. The former 7th-round pick is only 27 and has spent time at both safety and corner while making an impact on special teams earlier in his career. To me Alen would have been a clear upgrade over Prosinski and given the Bears a veteran safety, who can actually play safety and not just special teams.

CB Cortland Finnegan (unsigned) – Was released by the Saints in order to sign Sterling Moore. Finnegan is an agitator and one of my least favorite players, but that can change quickly when that type of player in playing for your team (see John Lackey). At 32, Finnegan is older than any player on this list, but came out of retirement to join the Panthers late last year and appeared in all of their playoff games including the Super Bowl. If Finnegan was good enough to play for a top-tier Panthers defense, he could probably fill in for the Bears in the slot if Calllahan isn’t 100%.healthy or any good.

Next: More Secondary Options