The Bear Goggles On Countdown to Kickoff series is now underway for the second season in a row. With 22 days to go until the Bears’ season kicks off, we will highlight the Bears’ player that is wearing number 22, Cre’Von LeBlanc.
Cre’Von LeBlanc came into the NFL as an undrafted free agent last season. He spent some time with the New England Patriots before coming to Chicago in early September. LeBlanc ended up playing in 13 total games with nine starts. He had 44 total tackles with 40 of those solo and four assisted. He had two interceptions, including one he ran back for a touchdown to go along with ten passes defended. Statistically, he was one of the better cornerbacks on the team.
LeBlanc saw a lot of action at in 2016 seeing action in almost 700 snaps. He played at regular corner and nickel.
Watching him play while casting the statistics aside can give you a different impression of LeBlanc. After having seen every play he was involved in last season, it would appear as if he made many more mistakes than positive plays. He would often let receivers get behind him and allow them to make big plays. He would stumble or fall on occasion. But most of all, he gave up big pass plays at critical moments.
LeBlanc is back with the Bears in 2017 and is having a decent training camp. After seeing the Bears practice and hearing about what is going on at camp every day, it does appear that LeBlanc is on the outside looking in when it comes to a starting spot. The starters at cornerback should be Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper while the starter at nickel should be Kyle Fuller. This is all speculation of course. But, despite the fact he may not start, LeBlanc can have a role with this team.
LeBlanc needs to prove he can eliminate the mistakes he made last year. He might get a bit of a break because it was his first season in the NFL but now, with some experience, he needs to prove he can be valuable. He is doing that in camp but not at a very high level.
I firmly believe that LeBlanc will get some reps at the nickel cornerback position this season and fill in when there is an injury or the need for a different look. I think that he can succeed doing that. If he can eliminate the issues that plagued him last year and continue to build on the positive things, he will prove his value.
LeBlanc will be with the Bears in 2017 as a backup corner. There is no way he doesn’t make the roster. But how much playing time he gets is difficult to predict. Injury and trouble with the talent ahead of him will dictate that. But I suspect we will see a lot of LeBlanc this season.
He may also get some chances to return punts this season. He has the skills needed to do that and, depending on who the Bears have on special teams this year, he may get an opportunity. He’s a pretty good athlete who needs to be on the field at least a few times a game.
Future with the Bears
Right now, LeBlanc is working on the second year of a three-year deal. If they were to cut him before the start of this season, Chicago would have $540,000 cap charge. That’s not too steep. But they won’t be letting him go in 2017.
His future in 2018 and beyond is a little cloudy. With his contract ending after 2018, the Bears will have a decision to make. LeBlanc will become a restricted free agent in 2019 but will Chicago let him get that far? Of course, his performance on the field will dictate what they decide to do.
Having been very critical of LeBlanc last season, this writer hopes that he can develop into something special and remain a part of this team for a while longer. He’s young and has a lot to learn but he should be able to develop into a fine backup who can step in and start when needed.
If he continues to develop I think that LeBlanc will earn a second contract with the Bears and be a mainstay on the team for the next few seasons. He’s a good talent with a lot of potential. If he can’t make it in Chicago for some reason, he will be able to land with another NFL team. But he should stick with the Bears.