LAKE FOREST -- Trevis Gipson started training camp facing an uphill climb on the Bears' depth chart. Despite good production during the Bears' three preseason games, Gipson hasn't moved up the list.
Staring at the possibility of either being cut or making the 53-man roster with limited available snaps, the Bears gave Gipson permission to seek a trade ahead of Tuesday's cutdown day.
Gipson has beaten up on third-string offensive linemen during the preseason, while Rasheem Green and Dominique Robinson have been less productive against higher-level competition.
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As the Bears evaluate which defensive ends to keep on the 53-man roster, everything gets taken into account. It's a running ledger of all the reps, both practice and games, since May. Preseason performance against future roster castoffs won't help Gipson.
"A full evaluation," defensive coordinator Alan Williams said Monday when asked about what goes into the complicated decision. "Evaluating OTAs. Evaluating how they do in practice. Evaluate how they do in the preseason games, who they go against, who they go against in practice, where their production comes from. Is it first, second, or third down? Who’s across from him when they have that production? Is it, hey, right now, or is it production that’s hustle production, or did they beat a guy right now and how good that guy was? It’s cumulative. How consistent are they with that part of it and their other assignments? It’s a full evaluation? We just don’t go sack-sack-sack or tackle-tackle-tackle. We dive into that production to see what it looks like and make decisions — what’s best for the unit? What’s best for the team?"
Robinson and Green have been the top reserve defensive ends during camp. Both have gotten a good chunk of first-team reps, with DeMarcus Walker missing time and Yannick Ngakoue ramping up.
Neither Green nor Robinson has flashed in game like Gipson, but it's clear the Bears are seeing something from Robinson and Green that they aren't from Gipson.
"Consistency that you can trust him, that you know what you’re getting from week to week," Williams said about Robinson. "That’s a big deal — that you can say, 'Hey, I know what I’m gonna get. The hustle he brings running out of the stack.' That’s always a good thing where week to week you know what you’re gonna get from a guy. We do know that, hey, he’s gonna be available, and he’s gonna be steady. The old adage, that the best ability is availability? There’s some truth to that."
"We like that he’s dependable," Williams said of Green. "We like the physicality that he brings. He’s not a guy that’s gonna talk a whole bunch, but he’s going to show through his actions how he plays. Where he’s still getting his feet wet, so to speak, in terms of crossing over from what he did in his previous lives, different teams, and what we expect of him here. But quietly, he goes about his business in a professional way. We like that."
Gipson's trade demand is unlikely to lead anywhere.
He's entering a contract year, and teams know the Bears likely will cut him by Tuesday. There's no reason to give up draft capital for a guy who recorded just three sacks and 30 pressures last season.
Gipson has been battling with Terrell Lewis for the final defensive end spot on the roster throughout camp. With news of Gipson's trade search leaking out Saturday, it's clear Lewis won that battle.
Williams isn't aware of Gipson's trade request. He leaves that business up to general manager Ryan Poles.
With a little over 24 hours to go until cuts are due, Williams wants to keep everyone that's currently in his room -- even if that's not possible.
"Everybody that’s on the roster now, I want," Williams said when asked if Gipson earned a spot. "There’s not a guy on the roster that I don’t want. Trevis is on the roster, so T-Gip, I want."
Assuming Walker will be ready to go for Week 1 in 13 days, the Bears likely will cut Gipson and have five pass rushers -- Walker, Ngakoue, Green, Robinson, and Lewis -- on their 53-man roster.
Gipson will find a home elsewhere. He's a competent NFL pass rusher who will be motivated to earn a new contract and prove the Bears wrong in their evaluation.
The NFL will give Gipson another chance, but he has likely run out of opportunities in Chicago.