The Bears drafted running back/wide receiver Kerrith Whyte Jr. in the seventh round in 2019. He wound up on their practice squad before the Pittsburgh Steelers plucked him off it, adding him to their 53-man roster. White finished the season with the Steelers, but was released earlier this month.
Cornerback Kevin Toliver was the most surprising cut the Bears made on cut day this year. He signed with Chicago as an undrafted free agent in 2018, playing in 27 games over the last two seasons, starting two.
Now, all three players have found new homes and new opportunities to succeed elsewhere.
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Kevin White: Finding New Life on 49ers Practice Squad
Along with Amari Cooper, White was one of the most highly touted receivers in the 2015 draft class. The Bears selected him seventh overall, but a litany of injuries derailed his career and he was released after he didn’t find a place in head coach Matt Nagy’s offense. He signed on to the Cardinals practice squad briefly in 2019, but was released in August, so he did not spend last season with an NFL team.
The reigning NFC Champion 49ers have given White another chance, however. San Francisco signed him to their practice squad, and he was one of the four protected players heading into Week 1. If injuries should strike their receiving corps, White could see the field once again, which would be quite the story.
For the first time, teams can protect 4 players per week on their practice squad from being poached. Week 1 protections started coming in today. Among those protected …
• Bucs QB Josh Rosen.
• Titans QB Trevor Siemian.
• Lions QB David Blough.
• 49ers WR Kevin White. pic.twitter.com/WFs0NlJu2s
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) September 8, 2020
Kerrith Whyte: In the NFC North Again
After the Steelers poached Whyte off the Bears’ practice squad last year, he showed flashes that suggested he could be a solid role-player in a rotational scheme. Whyte played in six games, rushing for 122 yards on 24 carries (that’s 5.1 yards per carry). Still, he was released by the Steelers earlier this month, but he didn’t stay without a team for long.
The Detroit Lions scooped Whyte up, signing him to their practice squad last week. While it’s unlikely the Bears will see Whyte Week 1, it’s possible they could down the line.
Cornerback Kevin Toliver: Reunited With Vic Fangio in Denver
Like Whyte, Toliver wasn’t on the market long. He was expected to compete for a starting job at corner this season opposite rookie Jaylon Johnson, but he fell too far on the depth chart, and the Bears ended up releasing him. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune suggested the team had intentions of signing Toliver to their 16-man practice squad, but the corner opted instead to sign with a familiar face: his former defensive coordinator and current Broncos head coach Vic Fangio.
Biggs also added that he felt Toliver may have chose the Broncos because they “probably sweetened the deal” and agreed to pay him above what the average practice squad member earns, which makes sense.
Either way, it will be interesting to see how each ex-Bear fares moving forward.