Bears Rumors

2020 NFL Opt Out Tracker

Per an agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA, players with COVID-19 health concerns can opt out of the 2020 season. Initially, the deadline was believed to be Tuesday, August 4. Recently, we learned that the deadline is set for seven days after the final execution of the agreement. The lawyers are still hashing out some paperwork matters, so the NFL is looking to push up the date.

Chiefs guard and medical school graduate Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was the first player to officially opt out. This week, scores of players followed.

Here’s the rundown, so far:

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

  • OL Anthony McKinney

Washington Football Team

Free agents

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Minor NFL Transactions: 7/30/20

Here are Thursday’s minor moves, with the list being updated throughout the afternoon.

Chicago Bears

Green Bay Packers

New England Patriots

New York Giants

New York Jets

  • Waived: DL Domenique Davis

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Football Team

  • Claimed off waivers (from Dolphins): CB Ryan Lewis

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/29/20

Teams continue to make moves as players report to training camps, with many opting to pare their rosters from 90 to 80 players well before the mid-August deadline. Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

  • Waived/injured: CB Tre Roberson

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Miami Dolphins

New York Jets

Bears’ Eddie Goldman Opts Out

Bears defensive tackle Eddie Goldman will opt out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 health concerns (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). Goldman’s decision leaves the Bears with a major void to fill up front, with just over a month to go before the scheduled start of the season.

[RELATED: Patriots’ Hightower Opts Out Of 2020 Season]

Goldman was set to continue on the four-year, $42MM+ extension he signed in the fall of 2018. Now, his $4.75MM in guaranteed salary will toll into 2021 and his full contract will run through 2023.

Last year, Goldman suited up for 15 games, notching 29 tackles and a sack. As a big man in the middle, his true value isn’t really captured by the traditional stats. The advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus framed him as the 35th best interior defender in the league out of 118 qualified players, thanks in part to his work against the run. For Goldman, that was actually a down year, and he’s provided steady pressure against quarterbacks over the last two seasons.

The opt outs are piling up quickly, and there are surely more on the way. NFL players have until Friday to formally make the call.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins Announce Trade For Bears’ Adam Shaheen

The Dolphins have officially acquired tight end Adam Shaheen from the Bears, per a club announcement. In exchange, Miami will send a conditional 2021 seventh-round pick to Chicago. 

The Bears had a major logjam at tight end and they were at a breaking point with roster cuts just around the corner. Rather than releasing him outright, Chicago managed to get something in return for the former second-round pick.

Shaheen hasn’t played up to his 2017 expectations, thanks in part to injuries over the last three years. All in all, he has totaled 26 receptions for 249 yards and four touchdowns in 27 games, out of a possible 48. For the Dolphins, it’s effectively a no-risk pickup. If Shaheen doesn’t make the final cut in Miami, they won’t have to send that seventh-round choice to Chicago. Even if he does make the Week 1 roster, the trade could still wind up as a wash – often times, draft pick conditions in trades like these are tied to snap counts.

Mike Gesicki projects to serve as the Dolphins’ top TE. Beyond that, Shaheen will fight for his spot alongside Durham Smythe and Michael Roberts.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears Release TE Ben Braunecker

Ben Braunecker‘s tenure with the Bears has come to an end. The team announced today that they’ve released the veteran tight end.

The Harvard product joined the Bears as an undrafted free agent in 2016, and he proceeded to spend four years with the organization. The 26-year-old has appeared in 48 total games with eight starts (including postseason), hauling in 15 receptions for 157 receiving yards. The six-foot-three tight end finally hauled in his first career touchdown pass during the Bears’ Week 9 win over the Lions this past season.

Braunecker was also a stalwart on special teams for Chicago, compiling 16 career tackles in 780 career special teams snaps.

The veteran was limited to only 11 games last season. He landed on the injured reserve in mid-December after sustaining a concussion.

The Bears have revamped their tight end depth chart this offseason. The team signed Jimmy Graham and Demetrius Harris, and they added rookie Cole Kmet in the second round of the draft. The organization is also rostering holdovers Adam Shaheen, J.P. Holtz, Jesper Horsted, and Eric Saubert, as well as former USC basketball player Darion Clark.

Bears Finalize Draft Class Deals

The Bears completed a quick effort to have their 2020 draft class signed by the time their rookies were to report to training camp. All seven of Chicago’s draftees are now signed, with the group either inking deals Tuesday or seeing the team reveal an agreement is in place.

Second-round tight end Cole Kmet and Round 2 cornerback Jaylon Johnson highlight the group, which also included linebacker Trevis Gipson, cornerback Kindle Vildor, wide receiver Darnell Mooney and tackles Arlington Hambright and Lachavious Simmons. Kmet, Johnson and Simmons signed their deals Tuesday.

This marked the second of two Bears drafts lacking a first-round pick because of 2018’s Khalil Mack trade. Chicago, however, gained a second-rounder in that deal and selected Kmet. The Bears took Hambright with a pick obtained in the deal with the Raiders as well.

The first tight end selected this year, Kmet will be expected to step in as Chicago’s starter fairly soon. The team has experienced issues filling this job in recent years. Dion Sims, 2017 second-rounder Adam Shaheen and Trey Burton failed to become the franchise’s long-sought-after answer here. The Bears did sign Jimmy Graham, but the soon-to-be 34-year-old tight end struggled for much of his Packers tenure.

A Utah product, Johnson can be expected to compete for the Bears’ starting cornerback job opposite Kyle Fuller. Chicago released Prince Amukamara this offseason. The Bears also traded up for Mooney in Round 5, doing so just before signing Ted Ginn Jr. to serve as a stopgap option. Chicago also cut Taylor Gabriel this offseason.

Here is the Bears’ draft class:

2-43: Cole Kmet, TE (Notre Dame)
2-50: Jaylon Johnson, CB (Utah)
5-155: Trevis Gipson, LB (Tulsa)
5-163: Kindle Vildor, CB (Georgia Southern)
5-173: Darnell Mooney, WR (Tulane)
7-226: Arlington Hambright, T (Colorado)
7-227: Lachavious Simmons, T (Tennessee State)

No Extension Talks Between Bears, Allen Robinson

Add Bears receiver Allen Robinson to the list of extension candidates who seem unlikely to get a new deal in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. During a recent interview on ESPN 1000’s Carmen and Jurko show (h/t Cam Ellis of NBC Sports Chicago), Robinson said that the Bears have not discussed a new contract with his agent. 

“We haven’t heard nothing,” Robinson said. “I think just as far as me and my agent, from [the] conversations that we’ve had, we’re not necessarily anticipating hearing anything at this point.”

Robinson indicated towards the end of last season that he would be interested in an extension with the Bears, but in May, we learned that the two sides were not close to an accord. Now, although Ellis indicates the team did have some internal discussions about a Robinson re-up in February, it’s unclear whether negotiations with Robinson’s camp were ever initiated.

Robinson, 27 in August, has one year to go on his three-year, $42MM deal. When Robinson inked his contract, it was near the top of the pecking order for the position. Since then, WR salaries have advanced past the $20MM/year mark. Julio Jones, Michael Thomas, Tyreek Hill, Odell Beckham Jr., Brandin Cooks, Adam Thielen, Jarvis Landry, and Stefon Diggs went on to leapfrog Robinson. He won’t top the likes of Jones or Thomas, of course, but he has a strong case to make for a decent pay bump.

The Bears are projected to hold more than $40MM in cap room next year, but that’s predicated on the cap projection staying as-is. Right now, that seems pretty unlikely.

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Bears Likely To Start Ted Ginn Jr.?

Ted Ginn Jr. will enter the 2020 season as the league’s second-oldest wide receiver, behind Larry Fitzgerald, and the 35-year-old veteran did not find a new team until after the draft. But the Bears may have big plans for the veteran speed merchant. Ginn will likely be the outside starter opposite Allen Robinson, Adam Caplan of InsidetheBirds.com notes. The Bears entered the offseason concerned about their speed on offense, wanting more help beyond Tarik Cohen in that department. Ginn remains one of the NFL’s fastest receivers and may well be on the verge of starting for a fifth NFL team. After missing most of the Saints’ 2018 season, Ginn caught 30 passes for 421 yards in 2019.

The Bears also have 2019 draftee Riley Ridley, he of a 4.61-second 40-yard dash clocking at the Combine, and 2020 pick Darnell Mooney. The latter profiles as more intriguing through a speed lens, having blazed to a 4.38-second time this year. But thanks to the virtual offseason, Day 3 picks might have a tougher time acclimating than the already-difficult college-to-NFL jump brings.

Kyle Long Mulling NFL Return

Kyle Long hasn’t ruled out a return to the field. On Monday, the former Bears Pro Bowl guard said that he’s at least thinking about coming out of retirement.

[RELATED: Kyle Long Denies Talking To Jets]

Full transparency I miss football, but at what cost?,” Long tweeted. “[Still,] I’m most likely gonna be on golf courses instead of gridirons

Long also wrote, “I didn’t retire, I got fired.” The Bears declined Long’s option for 2020, moving on from him after yet another injury-shortened season.

Throughout his career, Long struggled with shoulder, tricep, ankle, and hip injuries. He missed 22 games over his last three seasons, between 2017 and 2019. But, when he was healthy, he was one of the NFL’s top offensive guards. He was top-five in the league in most years, per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics.

Now 31, Long has the itch to resume his career. He says he’ll probably work on his putting instead of his blocking, but he admits that the door is still open.

If the Jets want to welcome Long back to the NFL, they have the cap room to sign him. They currently have about $25MM in available dollars, money that could also be used for edge or cornerback help. Still, they’ve already made significant upgrades on the offensive line by adding first-round pick Mekhi Becton, plus veterans Connor McGovern, Greg Van Roten, and George Fant.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.