Bears Rumors

NFC North Rumors: Amegadjie, Oladapo, Turner

After watching left tackle Braxton Jones miss six games last season, the Bears utilized a third-round pick to add some quality depth to the roster in Yale offensive tackle Kiran Amegadjie. That quality depth will have to wait, though, as Amegadjie is still reportedly making his way back from a season-ending injury he suffered in college, according to Courtney Cronin of ESPN.

Amegadjie suffered a partially torn quad in his final season at Yale that limited him to only four games last year after he underwent surgery. The team claims that doctors had medically cleared Amegadjie, but he has yet to practice in Chicago and will likely be sidelined for the at least the remainder of the spring. Head coach Matt Eberflus said that the plan is for the rookie to be ready by training camp.

Here are a few other rumors from around the NFC North:

  • Another rookie getting a delayed start to his NFL career is Packers safety Kitan Oladapo, per ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. The fifth-round pick out of Oregon State broke the big toe on his left foot during a drill at the NFL scouting combine. He waited to undergo surgery until after his pro day, where he still performed in position drills, and made teams aware of the situation during the pre-draft process. Currently sporting a protective boot and riding a scooter to lessen stress on the toe, Oladapo is not expected to participate in any offseason workouts. He aims to be ready by training camp.
  • New Vikings pass rusher Dallas Turner suffered from an unprecedented run of offensive draft picks to open the 2024 NFL Draft. After the minor slide to the middle of the first round, Turner finally came off the board at No. 17 overall as the third defensive player taken. Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated hints that the unforeseen streak of offensive players may not have been the only reason that Turner slipped later than expected. Breer says that Turner, UCLA pass rusher Laiatu Latu, and Washington offensive tackle Troy Fautanu all fell due to red flags from medical concerns coming into the draft. Without those issues, Breer speculates the three would’ve gone closer to their projected values.

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/16/24

Here are today’s rookie deals agreed upon between teams and players chosen in the middle and late rounds:

Chicago Bears

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams now have a two-Kamren safety group, with Kinchens following free agency addition Kamren Curl. The Kinchens and Jackson slot agreements leave only first-round pick Jared Verse unsigned among Rams draftees. The Rams got the ball rolling for picks near the top of the second round — the slowest-moving sector of the draft due to guarantee wiggle room — by inking Florida State defensive lineman Braden Fiske late last week.

NFC Front Office Notes: Eagles, Rosenberg, Falcons, Giants, Panthers, Bears

Jake Rosenberg‘s Eagles exit is now official. After a report earlier this offseason indicated Rosenberg would step down following a 12-year tenure with the team, the Eagles’ VP of football administration made the announcement (via PHLY.com’s Zach Berman). A friend of GM Howie Roseman‘s dating back to elementary school, Rosenberg assisted the Eagles on the salary cap front. The team has frequently been ahead of the curve in this area, as its 2024 offseason reinforced. It is not known where Rosenberg is headed, but this marks another key departure in the Eagles’ front office. Two years ago, four of Roseman’s lieutenants — Brandon Brown, Ian Cunningham, Catherine Raiche, Andy Weidl — left for assistant GM roles elsewhere. Another key piece will need to be replaced now.

Post-draft front office changes are common around the league. Here is the latest from the NFC:

  • Despite not being a Terry Fontenot hire, Tokunbo Abanikanda will rise to a key post in the Falcons‘ front office. The team is promoting the veteran scout to its college scouting director post, InsidetheLeague.com’s Neil Stratton tweets. Abanikanda has been with the Falcons since midway through Thomas Dimitroff‘s GM tenure, arriving in 2012. He will now take a pivotal role in the team’s draft preparation. Elsewhere in the Falcons’ front office, the team’s player personnel coordinator — Brian Zeches — is moving on, Stratton adds. Formerly an exec in Washington and Kansas City, Zeches was named to this post during the 2023 offseason.
  • In addition to adding Chris Snee to their scouting staff, the Giants are making multiple in-house promotions. They are bumping Nick La Testa to assistant director of pro scouting and naming Charles Tisch their football operations manager, The Athletic’s Dan Duggan tweets. Charles Tisch, who had been a football ops assistant, is the nephew of Giants co-owner Steve Tisch. With the Giants since 2017, La Testa had previously worked on the scouting level for the team.
  • A Carolina-to-Washington pipeline formed during Ron Rivera‘s NFC East stay, but the Commanders will now lose an exec to the Panthers. Carolina is hiring David Whittington for a college scouting role, according to Stratton. Whittington had been with Washington since 2009, holding several positions. Most recently, he worked as a national scout with the Commanders. The Panthers are also adding Eric Eager to their analytics department, per Stratton. Eager, a former Pro Football Focus staffer, worked most recently as the vice president of SumerSports, an analytics-based website that also employs Dimitroff presently.
  • The Bears are going through with a round of promotions as well. GM Ryan Poles is elevating Breck Ackley from assistant college scouting director to the director post, while Stratton notes national scout Francis St. Paul will become the assistant director. Area scouts Brendan Rehor and John Syty are also moving to national scouting roles.

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/14/24

Teams continue to sign their draft picks to rookie contracts. We’ve collected today’s miscellaneous signings below:

Chicago Bears

  • OT Kiran Amegadjie (third round, Yale)

Cincinnati Bengals

Denver Broncos

Indianapolis Colts

Minnesota Vikings

  • OT Walter Rouse (sixth round, Oklahoma)

New York Giants

  • CB Dru Phillips (third round, Kentucky)

Seattle Seahawks

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/13/24

Today’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

  • Claimed off waivers (from 49ers): DL Spencer Waege
  • Placed on reserve/retired list: OL Trente Jones

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Signed: DL Chris Collins

Miami Dolphins

  • Signed: OL Ireland Brown, CB Jason Maitre

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

  • Signed: RB Terrell Jennings, G Ryan Johnson, LB Jay Person, DE Jotham Russell
  • Waived: RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

  • Signed: DL Elijah Chatman
  • Waived: OLB Jeremiah Martin

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Waived: OL Kellen Diesch

San Francisco 49ers

  • Signed: DL Shakel Brown

Seattle Seahawks

  • Signed: DE Nathan Pickering, LB Devin Richardson

Tennessee Titans

NFL Workouts: Giants, Bears, Titans, Grant

With NFL rookie minicamps coming to a close, we can take a look at some of the notable names that were invited for veteran tryouts during the rookies’ introduction to the NFL. The Giants were one of the teams with multiple veteran free agents in attendance, as noted by Pat Leonard of NY Daily News.

Two outside linebackers were auditioned this week in New York. Myjai Sanders worked out with the team after playing sparingly in seven games for the Texans last year. A former third-round pick for the Cardinals, Sanders had three sacks as a rookie but, after falling down the depth chart, found himself being auctioned off as a trade candidate before ultimately getting waived.

The other was Shaka Toney, a former seventh-round pick for the Commanders who was waived just before the draft. He’s only played major snaps in one game over his two years, his lone start out of 26 games played, but totes 1.5 sacks on his record.

The third veteran in attendance was wide receiver Jared Bernhardt.

Here are a few other notable minicamp auditions that took place around the league:

  • The Bears also hosted three veterans, even eventually signing tight end Tommy Sweeney. Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic reports that cornerback Parry Nickerson and wide receiver Freddie Swain were the other two veterans in attendance this week. Nickerson entered the league as a sixth-round draft pick in 2018 for the Jets. Since then, he’s bounced around with one season each at in Jacksonville, Green Bay, Minnesota, and, most recently, Miami. Swain had a decent start to his career after two seasons in Seattle but didn’t play in 2023 after appearing in only four games in 2022 between time in Miami and Denver.
  • The Titans were another team to host multiple notable veteran names, namely cornerback William Jackson III and pass rusher Shane Ray, per Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 and Turron Davenport of ESPN. After playing out a rookie contract in Cincinnati, Jackson earned a three-year, $40.5MM contract with the Commanders but requested a trade that landed him with the Steelers a year in a half into the deal, though he never got to play for them. He hasn’t appeared in a game since Week 5 of 2022. Ray’s absence from the NFL has been even longer. A first-round pick for the Broncos in 2015, Ray hasn’t played in the league since 2018. He joined the Bills last offseason, reuniting with his former Denver teammate Von Miller, but he was cut before the regular season.
  • After attending the Eagles’ rookie minicamp, wide receiver and return specialist Jakeem Grant also worked out for the Saints at their rookie minicamp, per Mike Triplett of NewOrleans.Football. Grant hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since the 2021 season as he’s rehabilitated a torn Achilles and a ruptured patella tendon, but the last time he played, he earned Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors.
  • Lastly, the Dolphins hosted pass rusher Aaron Lynch for a tryout, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Lynch showed promise after tallying 12.5 sacks in his first two seasons with the 49ers but never managed more than three in a season over the next five years. He hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since 2020.

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/12/24

Sunday’s minor transactions to wrap up the weekend:

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

  • Signed: WR Kaden Davis

New York Giants

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

With the conclusion of rookie minicamps, a number of teams have made a few additions from minicamp auditions of undrafted rookie free agents. Sweeney is a rare example of a non-rookie getting a second chance from a minicamp audition. After collapsing on the practice field with the Giants last year due to a “medical event,” Sweeney will attempt a comeback to the NFL in Chicago.

Jones (undrafted out of Arkansas State), Sirmon (undrafted out of Northern Colorado), Chatman (undrafted out of SMU), Hayes (undrafted out of Central Arkansas), and Jefferson (undrafted out of Kentucky) all earned roster spots for the offseason after successful minicamp tryouts. Mosely and Stenberg were waived to make room for Hayes and Jefferson.

Bears Name Caleb Williams Starting QB

Given the makeup of the Bears’ quarterback depth chart, Caleb Williams beginning his career on the sideline never appeared a realistic possibility. Matt Eberflus dispensed with any mystery on this front Friday.

Eberflus confirmed the No. 1 overall pick is the Bears’ starting quarterback. Seeing as the Bears traded three-year starter Justin Fields for an underwhelming return and have not added a veteran who would make sense as even a short bridge to Williams, this was the widely expected plan in Chicago.

Entering mid-May, Chicago’s QB room consists of Williams, 2023 UDFA Tyson Bagent, Brett Rypien and 2024 UDFA Austin Reed. Bailey Zappe‘s successor at Western Kentucky, Reed adds to the non-Power 5 theme behind Williams. Bagent hails from Division II Shepherd, Rypien from Boise State.

Rypien carries by far the most experience in this group, having come into the league in 2019. But he spent time with three teams (the Rams, Seahawks and Jets) last season. Rypien’s start in place of Matthew Stafford against the Packers went poorly enough the Rams cut him soon after and reached an agreement to end Carson Wentz‘s lengthy free agency stay. Rypien, 27, is tied to a one-year, $1.13MM deal with no guarantees. Bagent did go 2-2 as a starter in place of Fields last season but finished his midseason run with three touchdown passes, six interceptions and a 6.0 yards-per-attempt number.

The other five teams to draft first-round QBs have potential starters via veteran pieces added this offseason. Marcus Mariota looms as Commanders insurance against Jayden Daniels needing a bit of time to develop, while Jacoby Brissett looks to have a better chance to be the Patriots’ bridge to Drake Maye. Kirk Cousins will, barring a snag in his rehab from Achilles surgery, be the Falcons’ starter over Michael Penix Jr. this season. Sam Darnold should have a good shot to hold off J.J. McCarthy to open the season. Bo Nix making a Division I-FBS QB-record 61 starts and being 24 points to the No. 12 overall pick being an early-season starter in Denver, but the Broncos have both Jarrett Stidham and Zach Wilson as possible placeholders.

Williams started each of his three college seasons, unseating Spencer Rattler at Oklahoma in 2021 and following Lincoln Riley to USC. Williams’ 2022 Heisman season placed him atop this year’s prospect lists — to the point the pre-draft rumors centered around the action that would take place after the Bears chose the Trojans standout. Although the Bears used first-round picks on QBs three times this century (Rex Grossman, Mitchell Trubisky, Fields) and traded two first-rounders (and more) for Jay Cutler, Williams’ debut will be easily the most anticipated start by a Bears passer in decades (if not ever).

Bears Sign Nine UDFAs

The Bears kicked off the 2024 draft, and the team also owned the No. 9 pick. Chicago only made three other selections during the weekend, though, leaving room for a number of undrafted players to take part in rookie minicamp. Here are the Bears’ UDFA additions:

Randolph did not enter the draft with nearly as much acclaim as fellow Illinois D-lineman Jer’Zhan Newtonbut he received a notable financial commitment from the Bears. Randolph secured $200K in guaranteed salary along with a $20K signing bonus, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 reports. The 6-5, 270-pounder amassed 10 sacks over the past three seasons and he will aim to provide depth along the defensive interior this year.

Chicago’s other lucrative financial investment was made in BenedetJust like college teammate Giovanni Manu, Benedet put himself on the NFL radar during his time with the Thunderbirds. The latter received $100K in total guarantees, per Wilson. Benedet earned first-team All-Canadian honors in each of the past two seasons, and he was selected by his hometown BC Lions in this year’s CFL draft. If he does not make the Bears’ initial roster, therefore, he will have a path to playing time north of the border.

Reed began his college career at Southern Illinois, redshirting with the team in 2018. That was followed by a transfer to West Florida, with whom he won the Division II championship. Reed sat out the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign before ultimately finishing his college tenure at Western Kentucky. Over two seasons with the Hilltoppers, he amassed 8,086 passing yards while throwing 71 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. Reed added 12 rushing scores over that span, and he will aim to parlay that dual-threat skillset into at least a practice squad spot in 2024.