Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report thinks the Bears, who currently have seven corners on their 53-man roster, should add Callahan in order to give the very young secondary another veteran presence.
“Eddie Jackson is the elder statesman of the group at 28 years old. Jaylon Johnson is considered a veteran in the unit despite being only 24. Jaquan Brisker, Kyler Gordon and Tyrique Stevenson will all need to play major roles in their first or second years in the league. It wouldn’t hurt to add someone who can both man the slot and provide veteran leadership. Bryce Callahan is familiar with Halas Hall and would fill that role,” Ballentine wrote on September 2.
Is Bryce Callahan Still an Effective Slot Corner?
Callahan spent the first four years of his career with the Bears after signing with the team as an undrafted free agent out of Rice in 2015. He had four solid years in Chicago, where he appeared in 45 games (29 starts) before heading to Denver, where he played with the Broncos from 2019-21. He spent the 2022 season with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Injuries have plagued Callahan throughout his career and have been his primary issue as a player. A broken foot forced him to miss his entire 2019 campaign, and he has never managed to play a full season since entering the league in 2015.
That said, Callahan played 15 games (11 starts) for the Chargers last season, the most he has played in a single season over his career. He finished with a career-high 47 total tackles (two for loss), six pass breakups, two QB hits, three interceptions and a defensive touchdown (stats via Pro Football Reference).
In 2022, quarterbacks had a 93.5 passer rating when targeting Callahan, who allowed 38 catches on 51 targets, per Pro Football Focus. The longest reception he gave up last year was 21 yards; he did that twice.
“He’s going to be 32 in October, but he’s coming off a season in which he recorded three interceptions while playing the slot for the Chargers,” Ballentine noted, adding: “Callahan still has enough left to give to a team that needs support in the slot. A homecoming might be in order.”
Kyler Gordon Has Been Looking Good in the Slot
To be sure, the Bears would be in a pickle if injury were to strike second-year CB Kyler Gordon.
After struggling early on in his rookie campaign last year, Gordon played better as the season progressed, and he has looked lights out in training camp and the preseason this year.
In 14 starts for the Bears in 2022, Gordon amassed 71 tackles (55 solo, two for loss), six pass breakups, a forced fumble and three interceptions. With the addition of rookie cover corner Tyrique Stevenson, Gordon has played exclusively in the slot, where he seems to be flourishing.
“(I’m) way more comfortable,” Gordon said on August 16. “Last year was a lot. Nothing I couldn’t handle, but coming in and playing two positions — playing a position I’ve never played before, having to constantly learn a lot — it took a lot of time for me to go and focus and hone in on my position, a different position, what the offense is doing, what our defense is doing.”
The Bears may be young at the position, but the best way for young corners to learn is to play. Players like Stevenson, Josh Blackwell and Terell Smith have all shown flashes and are assets to the roster. A reunion with Callahan sounds nice on paper, but that’s a move the Bears should only make if true desperation strikes.
Beth Mishler-Elmore is a Heavy sports contributor based in the Midwest. She covers the Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Heat for Heavy. She also covers the Bears for Bear Report, a CBS Sports affiliate. More about Beth Mishler-Elmore