Bears Insider

Early Bears' 53-man roster projection after rookie minicamp

The Bears will have tough decisions to make when roster cuts arrive this summer

NBC Universal, Inc.

A transformational offseason has come and gone for the Bears.

Quarterback Caleb Williams soft launched his NFL development this past weekend during rookie minicamp at Halas Hall, and now the offseason program ramps up with Organized Team Activities set to begin May 20.

General manager Ryan Poles has done incredible work to inject elite talent into the roster over the past year, and the Bears will enter the 2024 season with high expectations as one of the league's fast-ascending teams.

The Bears have few questions on the top line of their depth chart, but will have tough decisions to make on the back end of their roster later this summer.

Here's an early 53-man roster projection with OTAs around the corner:

QB (3): Caleb Williams, Tyson Bagent, Austin Reed

Not that it was in question, but head coach Matt Eberflus named Williams the starter prior to the start of rookie minicamp.

"No conversation," Eberflus said.

The Bears liked what they saw from Bagent last season and believe he has starter upside. Bagent went 2-2 as a starter last season and spent the offseason working on becoming "more dynamic."

The Bears will keep three quarterbacks, and Rypien has a leg up on undrafted free agent Reed as we start OTAs.

But Rypien has a career completion percentage of 58.3 and has thrown four touchdown passes and nine interceptions.

The Bears added Ryan Griffin to the staff to fill the "mentor" role for Williams, so Rypien isn't a needed asset.

We're splitting hairs with the QB3/Emergency QB spot, but let's go with a UDFA making the roster for the second straight season.

Out: Brett Rypien

RB (5): D'Andre Swift, Roschon Johnson, Khalil Herbert, Travis Homer, Khari Blasingame (FB)

There are two things to monitor with the backfield as OTAs get going.

No. 1: How do the Bears split reps between Johnson and Herbert behind Swift?
No.2: What will the role be for Blasingame in Shane Waldron's offense?

Blasingame signed a two-year extension last offseason, with former offensive coordinator Luke Getsy wanting an experienced fullback in his offense.

We don't know how Waldron will put the pieces for this new Bears offense together or whether he'll need a fullback.

Last year's Seahawks offense did not feature a true fullback, and they ran 21 personnel (two backs) on only 14 total plays.

We'll keep Blasingame on the roster for now, but his spot might not be safe, depending on how Waldron wants to craft the attack.

Undrafted rookie Ian Wheeler has potential as a return specialist, but he'll have work to do to make the roster.

Out: Ian Wheeler

WR (6): DJ Moore, Keenan Allen, Rome Odunze, Tyler Scott, Dante Pettis, Velus Jones Jr.

The Bears will have arguably the best wide receiver trio in the NFL in Allen, Moore, and Odunze. The hope is that the trio will open up the field for Scott to utilize his speed.

Pettis is a reliable return man who the Bears clearly value. Jones will enter training camp on the bubble, but the new NFL kickoff rules could give him one more life with the Bears.

However, the Bears are no longer in a position to tolerate the critical errors that have plagued Jones over the past two seasons. If those continue, he won't make the cut.

Out: Freddie Swain, Nsimba Webster, Collin Johnson, John Jackson III, Peter LeBlanc

TE (3): Cole Kmet, Gerald Everett, Stephen Carlson

Kmet and Everett will form one of the top tight-end duos in the NFL.

Carlson provides special teams value and can be a capable No. 3 tight end.

Undrafted free agent Brendan Bates and veteran Tommy Sweeney are on the outside looking in, but there's room to move past Carlson with a strong spring and summer.

Out: Brendan Bates, Tommy Sweeney

OL (10): Braxton Jones, Teven Jenkins, Ryan Bates, Nate Davis, Darnell Wright, Coleman Shelton, Kiran Amegadjie, Matt Pryor, Ja'Tyre Carter, Jake Curhan

The Bears will enter OTAs with four of their starting five set.

Bates will compete with Shelton for the starting center spot.

Pryor gives the Bears solid depth at both tackle and guard. Amegadjie likely won't practice until camp, but he plans to be ready to play any of the five spots if called on.

Carter was serviceable last season, and Curhan is familiar with Waldron. Both will enter camp on the bubble.

Out: Larry Borom, Theo Benedet, Doug Kramer, Bill Murray, Aviante Collins, Jerome Carvin

DL (8): Montez Sweat, DeMarcus Walker, Gervon Dexter, Andrew Billings, Zacch Pickens, Austin Booker, Jacob Martin, Keith Randolph

Filling out the depth pieces with this group is difficult.

The top six -- Sweat, Walker, Dexter, Billings, Bookers, and Pickens -- are locked in. But there aren't clear backup options at DE4 or DT4.

The Bears haven't seen the growth they wanted from Dominique Robinson, and Khalid Kareem didn't offer much during limited time last season.

Martin played just 16 percent of the snaps last season for the Colts but still notched two sacks and 14 pressures and had a team-high 17.3 percent pass-rush win rate, per Pro Football Focus. As far as situational pass rushers go, the Bears could do worse. They have done worse.

The fourth interior defensive lineman is challenging to pin down. Byron Cowart has minimal production in his career and Randolph is an undrafted rookie out of Illinois. I'll go with Randolph as a training camp riser, but that's just because he's the best option at the moment.

The Bears could still look to sign a veteran free agent on a cost-effective deal. They could also re-sign Yannick Ngakoue and look at Walker as both DE3 and a backup DT on pass rush downs.

Out: Dominique Robinson, Khalid Kareem, Byron Cowart, Jamree Kromah, Daniel Hardy, Michael Dwumfour, Dashaun Mallory

LB (5): Tremaine Edmunds, T.J. Edwards, Jack Sanborn, Noah Sewell, Amen Ogbongbemiga

Not a lot of drama here.

Sewell will try to push Sanborn for the starting SAM spot again this summer, but Sanborn's instincts and sure tackling have shined in his first two seasons in the NFL.

Ogbongbemiga will be a core special teams player who will provide depth.

Out: Carl Jones, Paul Moala, Micah Baskerville

DB (10): Jaylon Johnson, Tyrique Stevenson, Kyler Gordon, Kevin Byard, Jaquan Brisker, Josh Blackwell, Jaylon Jones, Jonathan Owens, Elijah Hicks, Terell Smith

The Bears' best unit has talent and depth across the board.

Johnson is one of the top corners in the NFL, and Stevenson came on late in his rookie season after taking the expected lumps early. The Bears believe Gordon will continue to ascend as one of the league's top nickel backs this season.

Byard will be a clear upgrade over Eddie Jackson. How he pairs with Brisker will be a story to monitor during the offseason program and training camp.

Blackwell, Jones, and Smith are a good group of backup corners. Hicks and Owens both provide special teams snaps and depth at safety.

Safety Tarvarius Moore will look to push for a spot as a core specials teams player and depth piece in the backend. He played 874 special teams snaps for coordinator Richard Hightower when the two were in San Francisco together. He did not play last season due to a knee injury, so he will have to prove he can stay healthy to earn a spot on the back end of the roster.

Out: Tarvarius Moore, Adrian Colbert, Greg Stroman Jr., Reddy Steward, Leon Jones, Quindell Johnson, Douglas Coleman III

Specialists (3): Tory Taylor, Cairo Santos, Patrick Scales

This is all set, barring injury.

Out: Cameron Lyons, Corliss Waitman

Click here to follow the Under Center Podcast.

Contact Us