According to the NFL’s official transaction wire for September 6, the Bears waived both Dante Pettis and Isaiah Ford from their injured reserve list with injury settlements on Wednesday, formalizing moves that were expected to happen at some point in 2023.
The Bears had been forced to place both Pettis and Ford on IR prior to their 53-man roster cutdown, effectively ensuring that neither would suit up for the Bears in 2023. With injury settlements, though, Pettis and Ford will each receive compensation for a period of time agreed upon by both parties and then be allowed to sign with new teams once that period ends and they are both healthy enough to return to the field.
While it is technically possible for either Pettis or Ford to sign with the Bears after a minimum of six weeks passes, it seems unlikely that Chicago will explore a reunion.
The Bears currently have seven wide receivers on their 53-man roster after signing former Cincinnati Bengals punt returner Trent Taylor following the roster cutdown. He will also expectedly contend for backup reps in the rotation behind starters D.J. Moore, Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool in Week 1 alongside Equanimeous St. Brown, Velus Jones Jr. and fourth-round rookie Tyler Scott.
Which Receivers Will Be Active for Bears in Week 1?
The good news for the Bears heading into Week 1 is that all seven of their rostered wide receivers have been cleared from the injury report and appear ready to go against the Packers on Sunday. In fact, Chicago only had to list four players total on their first injury report for the game, including Jaquan Brisker (limited, groin), Dylan Cole (DNP, hamstring), Eddie Jackson (limited, ankle) and DeMarcus Walker (limited, calf).
Unfortunately, only 48 of their 53 players will be allowed to dress against the Packers, which likely means that one of their seven receivers will be a healthy scratch.
The Bears are obviously going to play all three of their starters, but their game plan against the Packers could dictate who among the remaining four does not suit up. St. Brown is a veteran with solid blocking skills, while Jones (kick returner) and Taylor (punt returner) both hold specialist roles that could make them strong considerations.
Could that mean Scott — the promising rookie who has flashed both receiving ability and kickoff return ability in camp and the preseason — does not play in Week 1?
“That’s always a great conversation with the skill sets, right?” Eberflus said Monday. “How many running backs do you have? How many receivers? How many DBs? How many safeties, corners, runners? With all that skill set, there’s always a plus-one at one position that you’re going to carry, and that’s just the conversation you have. And then you’ve got to say, ‘Hey, what helps us win the game this week?’ or ‘What helps us play better on special teams?’
“A lot of the times … that’s a big piece of it, who is going to help us on special teams. That’s always a conversation that we are having with the offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator and special teams coordinator as we go through who is going to be up for the game.”
Bears ‘Still Believe’ in Velus Jones Jr. as Return Specialist
The Bears’ decision to sign Taylor as their punt returner initially gave the impression that Jones’ place on the 53-man roster could once again be in jeopardy. After all, they drafted him with expectations that he would be a major asset for them in the return game and have yet to see their plans come to fruition, at least when it comes to punts.
Despite Jones muffing one of the only two punts he fielded during the preseason, though, Bears general manager Ryan Poles made it clear during his August 30 press conference that they are not prepared to give up on Jones as a punt returner just yet.
“We’ve gotta get Velus comfortable in that position,” Poles said. “We’re going to continue to work on those guys and get them experience and try to get that confidence back that he had in college and before. So having some of the issues that he’s had, that’s a tough thing. You gotta work back through it. And he’s had some weird looks, too. So we still believe in him.”
Jordan J. Wilson is a sports reporter who covers the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers for Heavy.com. He has previously covered all levels of sports — high school, college and pro — for a variety of publications including The Indianapolis Star, The News-Gazette, Springfield State-Journal Register and Peoria Journal Star. More about Jordan J. Wilson