What Signing CFL Standout Says of Bears DB Situation
New Bears cornerback Tre Roberson comes to the team with a real chance to fill a need.
It's not a glaring need, but definitely one exists and it's one which could become even greater if they were to cut cornerback Prince Amukamara for salary cap purposes.
Trimming a player as good in coverage as Amukamara looks like a bad move on paper, but if the paper is an accountant's ledger then it doesn't. They would save his $9 million salary against the cap, although they'd be on the hook for his $1 million in prorated bonus.
Honestly, if the point of football is to be a cheapskate, then that sounds like a good move. But Amukamara plays one of the most difficult positions on the team and has done it very well. He isn't an interception guy, but usually is where needs to be to defend passes or reroute receivers. Pro Football Focus graded Amukamara higher than Kyle Fuller last year and Fuller made the Pro Bowl.
A high-quality cornerback is never easy to replace, as the Bears found out for years before they had Amukamara to team with Fuller.
If it is the route they've determined they'll take, the pass rush has to improve greatly to cover up for the weaker coverage they're sure to have at cornerback. They'll need to spend the money on a legitimate second pass rusher to complement Khalil Mack.
Regardless, it's entirely possible they could get something out of Roberson even though the CFL doesn't have a high percentage of providing quality players to the NFL. What's working well for Roberson is he's an outstanding special teams player, who has a long reach and good leaping ability. He has blocked CFL kicks in the past.
"He's my guy that does everything right," Calgary coach Dave Dickensen told reporters about Roberson. "He shows up first. He does a lot of the extra film work."
Those are qualities that work in any league.
The Bears could have an opportunity in special teams coverage for Roberson because Sherrick McManis' contract has expired.
Roberson had a 40 time of 4.52 at a pro day workout, which isn't extraordinary by any means for a cornerback. It's the same speed Kevin Toliver posted at LSU and Toliver went undrafted, as well.
Roberson is not quite 6 feet tall. So his measurables are not impressive.
But he did produce 10 interceptions in the CFL in two seasons, and making picks is something Amukamara has never been strong at doing even in good seasons.
If this move by the Bears does signify the end of Amukamara's Bears career, they have to hope Ryan Pace does better at drafting cornerbacks than he did last year in selecting Duke Shelley.
There's always free agency for a cornerback, but the Bears will likely find if they explore that market the $9 million they were paying Amukamara in salary is pedestrian cash.