Chicago Bears Roster Cuts: Who Were the Big Surprises?

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 18: Cre'von LeBlanc
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 18: Cre'von LeBlanc /

Of course, everybody would be preoccupied with the momentous Khalil Mack trade news, but the Chicago Bears roster cuts were also in motion.

Landing Mack is naturally a big deal. He’s one of the two or three best edge rushers in football. At 27-years old he’s in his physical prime and good for 10 sacks at least every year. Not only that, but the Bears were quick to lock him up on a six-year contract extension worth $141 million. That means he’s not going anymore for a good, long time. If he stays healthy, that could be a franchise-altering move.

That said, GM Ryan Pace can’t afford to rest yet. There is further roster tweaking to do before the regular season begins. First was whittling down from 90 players to 53. A process that began last week. Chicago took their time in these decisions as they typically do, not announcing all of them until a few hours after the deadline had passed. However, the news finally broke and the full list released. There were a few surprises sprinkled amidst the names.

Cre’Von LeBlanc (CB)

The former waiver wire pickup from back in 2016 at one point looked like a future starter but never quite did enough to earn that right. Even so, LeBlanc was a quality backup with a knack for creating timely turnovers and also served well on special teams. It’s possible the Bears grew tired of his inconsistent or if the rise of some young bucks on the depth chart squeezed him out.

Doran Grant (CB)

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LeBlanc was a minor shock but Doran Grant was a genuine disappointment. He was the best performer on the entire Bears defense during the preseason, collecting two interceptions and knocking down five other passes. It looked like he was playing his way onto the roster, so it’s difficult to understand why the coaches ultimately said no. Perhaps they didn’t like his consistency or weren’t comfortable with his size.

Ryan Nall (RB)

While it’s understandable why Ryan Nall was cut, it’s still a bit of shock. The running back was playing well in preseason and showcasing a lot of his underrated versatility as both a blocker and special teams player. The problem is he was on a depth chart that was already stacked with Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen and Benny Cunningham. With Michael Burton having more value as a blocker and pass catcher, it became too difficult to keep him.

Nick Williams (DE)

The veteran defensive end hasn’t had a ton of luck sticking to rosters in the past and that hard luck continues, but not because he played poorly. He looked good in preseason, getting frequent pressure on the quarterback and finding his way to the football. Like Nall though he was trapped in a loaded position group. With Roy Robertson-Harris and 5th round rookie Bilal Nichols surging, the odds of him making it was drastically reduced.