HomeSports6 new Bears players to know as the team continues OTAs

6 new Bears players to know as the team continues OTAs

6 new Bears players to know as the team continues OTAs originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

If you’re just tuning into the Bears now that they’re back in Halas Hall for their first OTAs of the year, you may have missed some of the bigger offseason additions this year. Or maybe you got so wrapped up with Caleb Williams during the pre-draft process that you didn’t have time to look at the other rookies or free agents. Maybe you just want to do a refresher on some of the biggest moves of winter and spring so you can prepare for summer.

Whatever the case, we’re here to help. Here are a handful of new names to know as the Bears return to action.

The Bears traded a fourth-round pick away to the Chargers and brought in Allen, who was one of the most consistent wide receivers in the league during his 11-season career. Allen turned 32 last month, so he shouldn’t be considered a long-term option for the team. But he dominates defenses based on his excellent route running and accurate techniques (not speed), so he should still be able to perform at a high level as an “older” pass catcher.

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Ryan Poles tried to land Bates in 2022, when Bates was a Bills restricted free agent. The Poles signed Bates to an offer sheet that ultimately matched the Bills, keeping the versatile interior lineman in Buffalo. Poland finally got his man, sending a fifth-round pick to the Bills in March. Bates was relegated to backup duties last year, but is expected to get his first shot at the starting job this year.

AUSTIN BOOKER – DEFENSIVE END

Just when it looked like the Bears were done in the 2024 draft, the Poles went back to the fifth round to select Booker. Team scouts love that Booker has a variety of ways he can beat opposing offensive linemen, whether it’s with speed, deceptive power or a nifty counter move. They also believe he has room to grow more into his long frame. This season, however, the expectation is that he will work as a rotational pass rusher as he hones his craft.

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KEVIN BYARD – FREE SECURITY

When the Bears cut Eddie Jackson, they were faced with the challenge of finding a new vocal, veteran leader at the back of the defense who could also take the ball away. The team did just that when they signed Byard to a free agent deal, and in the process improved their defensive tackles in the backfield. Byard could be the sneaky best free agent acquisition of the year.

The Bears tried to run with a three-headed monster, with Khalil Herbert, D’Onta Foreman and Roschon all having splitting carries. It wasn’t as effective as the team had hoped. This year, the team wants to put Swift back in charge, with others stepping in when he needs a spell. The Lions’ former second-round pick is coming off the best season of his career, when he carried the ball 229 times for 1,049 yards with five scores for the Eagles. Philly didn’t use Swift much as a pass catcher out of the backfield, but during his three years in Detroit, Swift showed he can also make an impact through the air.

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Former Bears punter Trenton Gill ranked bottom five in the NFL last year in several key areas, such as net yards/point, touchback rate and number of punts inside the 20-yard line. So the Bears used a fourth-round pick to draft the consensus top pick in this year’s class. Taylor is highly praised for his rare blend of power and finesse. The Bears believe he can be a weapon and set up defense in highly favorable situations by pinning opponents deep in their own territory.

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