Gabriel Houy

OL Alex Leatherwood, QB P.J. Walker Among Bears’ Cuts

The Bears have yet to begin making mass cuts in an effort to move towards the eventual 53-man roster, instead opting to look at a few bigger names that should affect how the rest of the roster plays out. According to Bears senior writer Larry Mayer, the Bears released quarterback P.J. Walker and waived offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood while waiving guard Gabriel Houy with an injury designation.

The most notable departure here is Leatherwood, who has consistently slotted in as the team’s backup to Teven Jenkins, whose struggles to stay on the field have only continued this offseason. Without Jenkins or Leatherwood, ESPN’s Courtney Cronin reports that Cody Whitehair would be the one filling Jenkins’ spot. If that’s the case, the Bears would then need to turn to Lucas Patrick to cover Whitehair’s starting center role.

Walker, a former backup quarterback who started seven games for the Panthers over the past three years, apparently failed to do enough to stay in the running for the backup job behind Justin Fields. That leaves the Bears with Nathan Peterman and undrafted rookie Tyson Bagent as the team’s reserve options behind Fields

Another notable part of this transaction is the money that gets left on the table by Chicago here. Leatherwood reportedly had $4.59MM of guarantees remaining on his deal, while the money lost by releasing Walker brings that total up to around $7MM in dead money. Second-year general manager Ryan Poles is making it clear that money owed on a contract isn’t going to determine roster spots for this year’s squad.

Bears Sign 14 UDFAs

After adding 10 rookies via the draft, the Bears have added another 14 first-year players via free agency. The Bears announced that they have signed 14 undrafted free agents:

Tyson Bagent had a prolific career at Shepherd, tossing 159 touchdowns in 53 games. The 6-foot-3 prospect has the size of a typical NFL quarterback, but his questionable decision-making and arm strength (coupled with his Division II status) led to him going undrafted. Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy got a closeup view of Bagent during the Senior Bowl.

Andre Szmyt left Syracuse as the school’s all-time leader in scoring. He converted 81 percent of his field goal attempts in college and 91 percent of his kicks from within 40 yards. Cairo Santos has connected on 89.7 percent of his FGAs over the past three seasons with the Bears, but the rookie should provide the veteran with a bit of competition in training camp.

Jalen Harris is the son of former Bears draft pick Sean Harris. The defensive lineman compiled 171 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, and 14 sacks in 56 games at Arizona before going undrafted last weekend. The rookie can find a role for himself as an edge on the Bears, with DeMarcus Walker, Rasheem Green, Trevis Gipson, and Dominique Robinson providing competition for the roster spots.