Given that the Bears leave no stone unturned in their hunt for talent, it’s no surprise that they’re monitoring the new Alliance of American Football league.
The AAF, which consists of eight teams, has been described as a developmental league and a feeder system for the NFL. Many of the league’s players were released by NFL teams in the cut down from 90 to 53 players last September.
“Our pro scouts are all over that,” said Bears general manager Ryan Pace. “We had pro scouts at their training camps that we sent down there. It’s really too early to say how many players are going to come out of there [and join NFL teams], but we’re going to be looking closely at it like we do every league.”
Pro Football Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian founded the AAF along with television and film producer and director Charlie Ebersol. The league enters its second week of play this weekend with two games scheduled for Saturday and two more on Sunday.
The teams in the league are the Arizona Hotshots, Atlanta Legends, Birmingham Iron, Memphis Express, Orlando Apollos, Salt Lake Stallions, San Antonio Commanders and San Diego Fleet.
Four players the Bears signed as undrafted rookies last year are playing in the AAF: Defensive end Bunmi Rotini and linebacker Nyles Morgan with Arizona, safety Nick Orr with San Antonio and punter Ryan Winslow with San Diego.
Two former Bears draft picks are looking to resurrect their pro football careers in the AAF: 2012 fourth-round tight end Evan Rodriguez with San Antonio and 2013 third-round defensive tackle Will Sutton with Arizona.
Other AAF players who have spent time with the Bears include Arizona receiver Rashad Ross; Atlanta receiver Malachi Jones and long-snapper Jeff Overbaugh; Birmingham offensive tackle Brandon Greene and kicker Nick Novak, Salt Lake running back Joel Bouagnon; and San Antonio receiver Demarcus Ayers, offensive lineman Cyril Richardson and cornerback De’Vante Bausby.
Bears Hall of Fame middle linebacker Mike Singletary is head coach of the Memphis Express, while former Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz is head coach of the San Diego Fleet.