The Chicago Bears stayed active after roster cutdown day, adding punt returner Trent Taylor in free agency from the Cincinnati Bengals on August 30. This should settle their punt return questions for the time being. Taylor, 29, spent the last three seasons with the Bengals but began his career with the San Francisco 49ers.
He sent out a message on social media upon his arrival at Halas Hall for his physical.
Bears’ New Special Teams Ace Sends Message After Agreeing to Contract
Couldn’t be more excited about this one,” Taylor tweeted along with a picture of a Halas Hall office space. ”Great people all throughout the building. Ready to get to work.”
— Trent Taylor (@Trent5Taylor) August 30, 2023
A 5-foot-8 slot receiver by trade, he also led the NFL in punt returns over 20 years last season. He averaged over 10.0 yards per return. The Bears ranked 17th in the league at 8.7 yards per punt return last season. They averaged just 6.0 yards per return this preseason. That was despite having good athletes in Velus Jones Jr. and Tyler Scott, two draft picks, on the roster.
Taylor’s 61.2 return grade from Pro Football Focus is the second-worst mark of his career and still would have been second-highest on the Bears last season behind only Dante Pettis who was placed on injured reserve.
Taylor comes with 87 receptions, 835 yards, and three touchdowns on 135 career targets.
But this allows the Bears to keep Scott and Jones focused on returning kicks where at least the former showed better this preseason.
Bears Claim Two Players Off Waivers
While Taylor was an undrafted free agent and, thus, not a waiver claim, the Bears were still active in taking advantage of having first priority adding a pair of players who have impressed this preseason.
EDGE rusher Khalid Kareem has just 1.0 sacks in his three-year career but showed well during joint practices with the Bears as a member of the Indianapolis Colts.
Rookie safety Quindell Johnson was a playmaker for the University of Memphis last season. To make room for Johnson and Kareem, the Bears waived second-year man A.J. Thomas and preseason standout EDGE rusher Terrell Lewis.
— ᑭᖇO ᖴOOTᗷᗩᒪᒪ ᒍOᑌᖇᑎᗩᒪ 🏈 (@NFL_Journal) August 27, 2023
They will have to make another move to make room for Taylor.
Velus Jones Jr.’s Future In Question
The Bears kept six receivers on the 53-man roster: Jones, Scott, Chase Claypool, Darnell Mooney, DJ Moore, and Equanimeous St. Brown.
It will be difficult for either Jones or Scott to usurp most of the players ahead of them in the pecking order barring injury. Special teams could be their best way of seeing the field early on and, if not, it gets more difficult to envision a meaningful role for either.
Scott, as the rookie would seem to be safer. But both players were drafted by this front office and general manager Ryan Poles