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Chalk Talk

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Chalk Talk: Who is Bears' top undrafted rookie?

Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.

Were any of the undrafted free agents the Bears signed expected to get drafted? If so, which ones would be considered steals?
Frank H.
Spring Grove, Illinois

In researching mock drafts and pre-draft player rankings, it appears that the most highly-regarded undrafted free agent the Bears signed was Virginia outside linebacker Charles Snowden. NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt ranked Snowden as the second best undrafted free agent edge rusher available, the only free agent signed by the Bears in the top three at his respective position. Snowden, a 6-7, 240-pounder, appeared in 45 games over four seasons at Virginia, recording 190 tackles, 15.0 sacks, 30.5 tackles-for-loss, two interceptions, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. Pro Football Focus predicted that Snowden would be selected in the sixth round of the draft at No. 199 overall by the Minnesota Vikings. Another highly-regarded undrafted free agent signed by the Bears was CJ Marable, ranked by Brandt as the fourth best undrafted free agent running back. Marable played in 36 games the past three seasons at Coastal Carolina, rushing for 2,691 yards and 29 touchdowns on 491 carries, catching 84 passes for 703 yards and 12 TDs and averaging 17.4 yards on 13 kickoff returns. In 2020, he was named first-team All-Sun Belt as both a running back and all-purpose specialist after leading the conference with 1,227 all-purpose yards (887 rushing, 228 receiving and 112 on kickoff returns).

When have the Bears started a rookie quarterback in their history other than Mitchell Trubisky and how have those rookies fared?
Ryan B.
Woodstock, Illinois

Interestingly, the three rookie quarterbacks who started most recently before Mitchell Trubisky all posted winning records: Rex Grossman (2-1 in 2003), Craig Krenzel (3-2 in 2004) and Kyle Orton (10-5 in 2005). None really lit the world on fire, though. Grossman's 74.8 passer rating was the highest of the three. The Bears won the NFC North title in 2005 with Orton as their starting quarterback, but it was mostly because of their running game featuring Thomas Jones, their defense and their special teams. Mitchell Trubisky, by the way, was 4-8 as a rookie starter in 2017 before compiling winning records in each of his three final seasons with the Bears: 11-3 in 2018, 8-7 in 2019 and 6-3 in 2020.

The Washington Football Team recently signed former Bears left tackle Charles Leno Jr. to a contract. I was under the impression that it would have been financially beneficial to the Bears to wait until June 1 to cut him. Could you please elaborate on this situation?
Billy L.
Arizona

NFL teams are permitted to designate two players every year as post-June 1 cuts even if they are released before June 1, and that's what the Bears did with left tackle Charles Leno Jr. So the Bears were able to benefit financially in terms of the salary cap by spreading Leno's signing bonus over two years instead of just one. It's also good for the player to be released before June 1 as Leno was because it gives him more time to find a job with another team as Leno did with Washington.

Chalk Talk features fan questions multiple times each week. Email your question to Larry.

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