The Chicago Bears have been lucky to not have to worry about a lot of turnover on the roster this season. The organization has spend the last several years adding and subtracting players off the 53-man roster at a high clip but the relative health of the team this year has kept the majority of the same players on the roster through Week 14. On Tuesday, the Bears signed veteran cornerback Marcus Williams to the roster after placing nickelback Bryce Callahan on injured reserve. Williams became just the second free agent added to the 53-man roster this season. The other was offensive lineman Bryan Witzmann.
Long-time NFL contributor Howard Balzer noted the Bears brought in a total of six players for a workout this week before signing Williams. Balzer noted Chicago tried out linebacker Josh Forrest, linebacker Jameer Thurman and defensive lineman James Vaughters, as well as cornerbacks Doran Grant, Sterling Moore and Williams.
Forrest entered the NFL as a sixth-round pick out of Kentucky in 2016 with the Los Angeles Rams. He saw action in 10 games with four starts as a rookie. He recorded nine tackles and one pass deflection before he was placed on injured reserve. He was released in early September of last year and later was signed to the practice squad of the Seattle Seahawks. He was promoted to the 53-man roster in November of last year before he was placed on injured reserve. He was re-signed by the Seahawks this offseason but released before the start of the year.
Thurman currently plays in the Canadian Football League after playing collegiately at Indiana State. He played in 18 games last year in the CFL and recorded 52 tackles, one sack, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. He saw action in 17 games this past season, recording 82 tackles, two sacks, one interception and one forced fumble. Vaughters played collegiately at Stanford and was born in Chicago. He also has played in the CFL the last two years, racking up 50 tackles and 11 sacks.
Chicago came into the workout familiar with both Grant and Moore. Grant spent part of last year on Chicago’s practice squad and the offseason with the team. He recorded a pick-six in the preseason against the Buffalo Bills and had looked like someone who had a shot of making the roster. Instead, he was beaten out by undrafted rookie Kevin Toliver for the final spot on the 53-man roster.
This was the second time the Bears brought in Moore for a workout this year. He reportedly came in for a workout in late September. He has a history of playing the nickelback spot and has recorded 186 tackles, 40 pass deflections, six interceptions, one defensive touchdown and six forced fumbles in seven years in the league. He previously spent time with the New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints.
The Bears ultimately settled on signing Williams. He entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Houston Texans before joining the New York Jets. He put together a strong season in 2015, recording 27 tackles, 1.5 sack, 10 pass deflections and a career-high six interceptions. He gives Chicago much-needed depth and experience at the nickelback spot with Callahan now done for the year.