The highly talked about Alliance of American Football (AAF) suspended operations about two weeks ago after completing just eight weeks of it’s 10 week regular season. While the league hasn’t officially folded yet, there are no signs that the AAF will resume operations any time soon as the fallout continues. Therefore the season won’t be completed, there won’t be any postseason, and a lawsuit has been filed against the league. Now it’s players and coaches are left looking for new jobs. Some players have signed NFL contracts this week, including some listed in our previous AAF/Bears story, but there are still others out there looking to resume their careers.
The Bears have made it known that they are looking to improve depth at certain positions with the NFL Draft fast approaching. In the NFL the scouting and player evaluation never ends. And since they only have four draft picks at their disposal this year, they could fill some needs by taking a chance on some of these still unsigned players. Here are some additional former AAF players that the Bears should consider with the draft and mini-camps soon to get underway….
Kicker Younghoe Koo-
The Bears recently brought in the South Korea native for a workout at Halas Hall. Koo, 24, was one of the few bright spots for the AAF’s Atlanta Legends who were tied for the league’s worst record (2-6). Koo converted all 14 of his field goal attempts for the Legends, including an outstanding 8-for-8 from beyond 30 yards. And with place kicking being the Bears most glaring issue in 2018, and with only unproven kickers on the current roster, giving Koo a chance couldn’t hurt. Before joining the AAF, Koo saw some time with the Los Angeles Chargers in 2017 in which he covered just 3-of-6 attempts.
Running back Ja’Quan Gardner-
While it may have taken longer than anticipated, the Bears did eventually trade Jordan Howard. And while this seems to open the door for Tarik Cohen to take over the starting position, the Bears did add Mike Davis in free agency and could select another back later this month. But Gardner was a major reason why the San Diego Fleet finished just two games (3-5) out of first place in the AAF’s Western Conference. When the league came to a halt Gardner had 311 rushing yards (averaged 4.8 yards per carry), 107 receiving yards (8.9 yards per reception), three touchdowns, and displayed the multi-threat ability that head coach Matt Nagy likes in a running back. He also has the speed that Nagy desires as well.
Fullback/Tight End Evan Rodriguez-
A former Temple standout, Rodriguez began his career with the Bears in 2012. He bounced around a few other NFL teams after that before finding a home with the San Antonio Commanders upon signing with the AAF. As a fullback Rodriguez was only used for run blocking by San Antonio as he never recorded a rushing attempt. But as a tight end he was part of a two-man rotation that was employed by Commanders head coach Mike Riley. He caught 12 passes for 160 yards (averaged 13 yards per catch) and two touchdowns.
Adding Rodriguez to the roster could help the Bears on two fronts; he can lend a big assist in run blocking without having to add a fullback to the roster (Nagy uses them occasionally), and he can add depth to a position that didn’t have much of it in last year’s playoff loss to the Eagles (Trey Burton was injured that day).
Linebacker Reggie Northrup-
With the Bears continuing to operate a 3-4 defense, linebackers are always a need and priority. Depth behind Kahlil Mack, Leonard Floyd, and Roquan Smith and company is important especially in the event of an injury. Northrup was one of the AAF’s best linebackers during his short time with the Orlando Apollos. He was the leagues third leading tackler (62), he also had a sack and was a major reason why the Apollos held five of their opponents under the 20-point mark. He could fit in with this team.