The Chicago Bears have some big decisions ahead of them. Their entire offseason in 2020 was predicated on one thing. Finding a way back to the playoffs. That meant adding competition wherever they possibly could. While most will have their eyes on the quarterbacks, other positions won’t be idle either. Several could see some pretty heated battles over the next two months.
This could lead to some unexpected moves. Players who might’ve appeared safe a few months ago suddenly find their roster spots very much in jeopardy. Who are the names that should be the most nervous? Here is a shortlist of those who might end up getting that dreaded request to visit the head coach with their playbook.
These Chicago Bears names should be getting nervous
Javon Wims (WR)
It really looked like Wims was poised for a big season in 2019. He showed flashes of serious potential as a rookie, dominating the preseason and making some nice plays in limited regular season snaps. Then…nothing. Despite playing at least 30 snaps in seven games last year, he managed just 18 catches for 186 yards. Wims had a couple of nice games against Minnesota and Detroit, but never emerged as a legitimate threat alongside Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller.
Now his spot on the roster is up for grabs. Ted Ginn Jr. and Darnell Mooney are both new arrivals while the coaches have high expectations of second-year man Riley Ridley. The competition is far deeper this time. Unless Wims can either step up his game or establish himself on special teams, he’s in trouble.
Alex Bars (OG)
This time last year, the buzz around Alex Bars was real. Even though the Notre Dame product went undrafted, the Bears spent a lot of money to sign him. This is because he had ties to offensive line coach Harry Hiestand and was talented enough to where most believed he would’ve been drafted if not for an untimely knee injury. It’s amazing how quickly things change in a year.
Hiestand got fired this offseason in favor of Juan Castillo. If that weren’t enough, the Bears also signed veteran Germain Ifedi while drafting Arlington Hambright and Lachavious Simmons. Suddenly the guard room has gotten crowded and the guy championing Bars is gone. So his future in Chicago depends entirely on his training camp performance.
Joel Iyiegbuniwe (ILB)
Nick Kwiatkoski and Kevin Pierre-Louis were both excellent as backup inside linebackers last year. Now both are gone to other teams. This leaves the reserve spots in a state of flux for the Bears. Joel Iyiegbuniwe must be happy about this. The former 4th round pick has patiently waited for his chance to get more action on defense.
That said, he can’t get comfortable yet. It’s not clear how many inside linebackers the Bears will carry this year. They added intriguing undrafted rookie Rashad Smith. So Iyiegbuniwe can’t call his path to a roster spot clear. His biggest advantage right now is his value on special teams. That should sustain him, but he cannot and should not assume he’s safe.
Duke Shelley (CB)
No position on the Bears roster saw more action this offseason than cornerback. Tre Roberson and Artie Burns arrived as free agents. Jaylon Johnson and Kindle Vildor quickly followed in the draft. This was a clear message from GM Ryan Pace and the coaching staff that they plan to have lots of competition and only the best will survive.
Duke Shelley had a lot of promise coming in as a 6th round pick last year. He didn’t deliver much as a rookie though, hardly playing on defense and not standing out on special teams. With such a massive influx of new faces arriving, his draft status no longer means anything. Unless he steps up his game in camp, he’s destined for the practice squad or outright release.