Adam Oestmann's post on Chicago Bears | Latest updates on Sulia
One fan asked me how NFL teams, like the Bears, determine how many players to keep on the roster at each position at final cut-downs. It’s all about the way coaches evaluate players—whether that be based on talent, position, potential, size, and/or athleticism. It would be a really simplistic approach to set your numbers in advance, based on the NFL limit, and then plug in the best players until someone gets left off, but that’s just not how teams do it. Some measurables are valued more highly than others. For example: big guys (guys with good size but maybe not great talent) are often evaluated higher than skill position players. Lovie Smith in particular likes athletic players, so guys who show that high level of athleticism will ultimately be evaluated higher in his system.
Teams will, in fact, set limits on how many players they will keep at a position—a floor and ceiling thing. For the Bears, they may head into final cuts knowing that they will keep no less than five wide receivers on the roster and no more than six. When it comes to more interchangeable positions, like offensive and defensive linemen, they may technically only keep three or four defensive ends, while knowing that some of their tackles can step in if needed. So those positions are a little more open-ended.
Finally, teams have to protect their talent, and so, many times, the goal is to keep as much talent as possible, while also staying within your range at each position. Take the Bears’ wide receivers, for example again: I tend to think they might actually keep six this season. Why? Because if they only keep five, they have to cut someone like Devin Thomas or Eric Weems, and that’s even if they send Johnny Knox to IR. Because both guys have more than four years of service, neither would be subject to the waiver wire as vested veterans, and both would be free to sign with any team (clarification: after the trade deadline, veteran or not, every player is subject to the waiver process). By doing that, the Bears risk losing a very talented special teams player to a team potentially in their own division. And divisional opponents love to pick the brain of a guy who’s just spent all off-season with their competition and who can also contribute. You don’t want to giftwrap your game-plan for the opponent.
All these things factor in to the final roster, and the Bears have their work cut out for them this season with some potentially tough decisions to make.