Bears Rumors

Minor NFL Transactions: 4/17/19

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

  • Signed: OL Brant Weiss (Alliance of American Football)

Chicago Bears

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

New York Giants

Oakland Raiders

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Bears’ Zach Miller Retires From Football

On Tuesday, Bears tight end Zach Miller took to social media to announce his retirement from football. Miller recently indicated that the door was still open to playing, but upon further reflection, he has decided to walk away from the game due to health and safety concerns. 

The time has come to move on from playing the game of football,” Miller wrote on Instagram. “It has been an incredible journey for myself and my entire family and we can’t thank you enough for your continued support. I would love more than anything to step on Soldier Field one last time but I physically cannot give the game and our fans what they deserve.”

Miller, who spent the first three seasons of his career as an afterthought in Jacksonville, did his best work with the Bears between the 2015 and 2017 seasons. In 2016, Miller caught a career-high 47 passes and 486 yards with four touchdowns. In ’17, he was on pace for similar stats with 20 grabs for 236 yards and two TDs before his devastating injury in October.

Last year, doctors told Miller that he was at risk for losing his leg after he severely dislocated his left knee and tore his popliteal artery. Thankfully, after nine surgeries, Miller’s knee is safe. Still, it’s probably for the best that Miller does not play football again.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears Sign AAF Kicker Elliott Fry

On Friday, the Bears signed kicker Elliott Fry to a three-year contract, Larry Mayer of the ChicagoBears.com writes.

A former walk-on at the University of South Carolina, Fry recently played with the Orlando Apollos of the Alliance of American Football league, which recently suspended operations. He was a steady leg with the Apollos, converting all 14 of his attempts, with a long of 44 yards.

The Bears notably had issues with their kicking game in 2018. Those issues all culminated in the NFC Wild Card round, when Cody Parkey missed a 43-yard field goal with 10 seconds remaining that would have given the Bears the lead on the Eagles.

Fry becomes the third kicker the team has signed this offseason, joining Redford Jones (reserve/future contract) and Chris Blewitt.

Draft Rumors: Giants, Gary, Allen, Bills

The Giants‘ meeting with Kyler Murray got all of the headlines, but the Oklahoma quarterback wasn’t the only big-name prospect to get face time with the club on Thursday. The Giants also hosted Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary and Kentucky pass-rusher Josh Allen, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears.

At this rate, it would be a surprise if Murray is available for either of the Giants’ first-round picks at No. 6 and No. 17. However, Gary and Allen could be in range for a team that is said to be prioritizing pass-rushing. Allen would represent the safer bet based on his college production, but that also means that he could be gone by the time the Giants take the podium. Gary, who boasts serious raw skills, should last a bit longer after tallying just 3.5 sacks last season.

Here’s the latest NFL Draft buzz:

  • Florida offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor will visit the Panthers on Friday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Taylor, a 6’5″ lineman, could project as either a right tackle or guard at the next level, which could be helpful for a team that has overhauled its O-Line this offseason.
  • The Bills are set to meet with Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams, as Josina Anderson of ESPN.com tweets. Unfortunately for Buffalo, Williams is unlikely to be around at No. 9 overall, so they’ll probably have to trade up in order to land him. Recently, Williams met with New York’s other two teams.
  • The Bears will huddle up with Alabama running back Josh Jacobs, the team announced. Jacobs is widely rated as the best three-down back in this year’s class, but he does not offer the same kind of upside as last year’s top-drafted RB Saquon Barkley. Still, the Bears will have to get creative if they want to land Jacobs – Thanks to the Khalil Mack trade and last year’s move up for wide receiver Anthony Miller, the Bears won’t be on the board until the third round (No. 87 overall).
  • The Bills hosted an interesting mid-round prospect in Buffalo QB Tyree Jackson (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). Jackson could be a natural fit for the Bills as his size and athleticism mirrors that of QB Josh Allen.

Bears To Host Miles Sanders

  • Penn State running back Miles Sanders has been vaulting up draft boards (he currently ranks one spot behind Collier at No. 46 on Jeremiah’s list), and he has a busy schedule ahead of him. Sanders is scheduled to work out for/meet with the Bears, Eagles, Steelers, Ravens, Bills, Cowboys, Falcons, Titans, Bengals, Panthers, Buccaneers, and Colts. In 2018, Sanders’ only season as a starter, he posted 1,274 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 220 attempts.

Bears To Work Out K Caleb Sturgis

Veteran kicker Caleb Sturgis will audition for the Bears today as part of a workout session that also includes Alliance of American Football alums Younghoe Koo and Nick Rose, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link).

Sturgis, 29, has six NFL seasons and 150 field goal attempts under his belt. After playing for the Dolphins and Eagles during the first five years of his career, Sturgis entered the 2018 campaign as the Chargers’ kicker. However, he only converted 9-of-13 field goal attempts in Los Angeles before being sidelined by a strained quad. The Chargers opted to stick with replacement Michael Badgley once Sturgis regained his health, and released the latter in November.

Although Sturgis worked out for the Panthers, Jaguars, and Seahawks after being cut by Los Angeles, he never caught on with another club. Chicago is searching for a new kicker after cutting veteran Cody Parkey following a dismal debut campaign; at present, the only placekickers on the Bears’ roster are Chris Blewitt and Redford Jones, neither of whom have any NFL experience.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Zach Miller Hasn’t Ruled Out NFL Return

Bears tight end Zach Miller underwent nine surgeries to fix his leg after a scary injury in 2017. At one point, doctors floated the idea of an amputation, but Miller persevered and now indicates that he hasn’t ruled out a return to football (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Jeff Dickerson). 

[RELATED: Josh Sitton Retires From NFL]

Either way, Miller says a final decision should come soon. And, if he decides to return to the game, he already has a contract in place with the Bears that takes him through the 2019 season.

Miller, who spent the first three seasons of his career as an afterthought in Jacksonville, did his best work with the Bears between the 2015 and 2017 seasons. In 2016, Miller caught a career-high 47 passes and 486 yards with four touchdowns. In ’17, he was on pace for similar stats with 20 grabs for 236 yards and two TDs before his devastating injury in October.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Anthony Miller Details Shoulder Trouble

Anthony Miller showed promise for the Bears as a rookie, hauling in seven touchdown receptions and being a key player from the outset of the team’s NFC North championship season. The Memphis product dealt with a shoulder injury, however, for much of the season. Miller said he dislocated his shoulder at least five times during his rookie campaign, with Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune noting the first such dislocation came in September and the last had him a shell of his optimal version. By season’s end, Miller had faded, finishing his first regular season with a four-catch, 25-yard December. Miller underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in January and expects to be limited throughout the Bears’ offseason program, per Kane, but understandably anticipates a production increase as an NFL sophomore — should he sufficiently recover from this ailment.

Bears To Workout Pair Of AAF Kickers

Chicago is leaving no stone unturned in their search to replace Cody Parkey. Parkey, of course, struggled all of last season and missed the last-second kick in the playoffs that would’ve sent the Bears through to the second round.

The Bears signed former Tulsa kicker Redford Jones after a group tryout in January, but they aren’t going to just hand the job. Chicago is hosting a pair of kickers just released from their AAF contracts when the league folded, sources told Brad Briggs of The Chicago Tribune. Younghoe Koo and Nick Rose will be brought in for auditions Wednesday.

Briggs adds that it’s “believed they might bring in at least one additional kicker that day,” and Briggs floats fellow AAF alum Elliott Fry as a likely option. Both Koo and Rose have seen regular season action, and both have spent time with the Chargers. Koo entered the 2017 season as Los Angeles’ starting kicker, but was replaced after a few missed clutch kicks early in the season.

Koo is talented though, and he beat out Josh Lambo with the Chargers for a reason. If he can get things sorted out mentally he has the potential to be a serviceable kicker. Rose has spent time with the Redskins and Chargers, and is 11/14 on field goals in his career. Kicker is clearly a priority for the Bears in 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.