Bears Urged to Sign Former Packers 2nd-Round Pick After Brutal Loss

Darnell Savage

Getty Former Packers DB Casey Hayward.

The Chicago Bears opened their 2023 campaign with one of the team’s most disappointing losses in recent memory, falling at home to the rival Green Bay Packers, 38-20.

The Bears had multiple glaring issues on both sides of the ball in the loss, but Matt Holder of Bleacher Report believes the team’s biggest weakness is at cornerback — and he thinks Chicago would benefit from signing former Packers DB Casey Hayward, who remains a free agent.

“Outside of Jaylon Johnson, the Bears don’t have a ton of talent at cornerback right now,” Holder wrote on September 11. “Also, Johnson’s play has been up and down during his three-year career, and Chicago is starting rookie second-round pick Tyrique Stevenson on the other side, so it could at least use some veteran experience at corner.”

Tyrique Stevenson Was Rare Bright Spot for Bears in Loss to Packers

Stevenson, who Chicago took in the second round with the 56th overall pick this year, had a solid debut against the Packers, finishing with six total tackles, which included a nice, tone-setting tackle-for-loss in the first quarter:

The 6-foot, 214-pound rookie corner played with speed and good instincts, flying to the ball on both defense and special teams, where he played 100% and 43% of the team’s snaps, respectively. Holder thinks cornerback is the primary weakness on Chicago’s roster, which is arguable, particularly considering the team’s ineffective offensive and defensive lines.

Still, his point about Chicago needing some veteran depth in the room is a valid one.

“Hayward would bring 11 years of knowledge to the position group, and he’s two seasons removed from recording nine passes defended while serving as the Raiders’ top cornerback,” Holder noted. “Granted, this would depend on how his medicals check out as the Falcons released him with a failed physical after he suffered a shoulder injury in 2022.”

NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported via X on September that Hayward has been “fully cleared” from the pectoral injury he sustained during the 2022 season while with the Atlanta Falcons.

Health at CB Something to Watch for Bears After Week 1

The Bears suffered a concerning injury in the loss to the Packers when starting slot corner Kyler Gordon injured his hand while blitzing Packers quarterback Jordan Love in the third quarter. Gordon was ruled out after that and was seen with his hand heavily wrapped when the game was over.

Second-year undrafted free agent Josh Blackwell came in to play nickel in Gordon’s absence, but other than Blackwell, the Bears have 2023 fifth-round corner Terell Smith and another 2022 UDFA, Jaylon Jones, on the depth chart.

If Gordon’s hand injury is going to keep him out for multiple weeks, the Bears will likely scour the free agency market for versatile corners. Whether they look at Hayward remains to be seen.

A second-round pick for the Packers in 2012, the 11-year vet has also played for the Chargers, the Las Vegas Raiders, and the Falcons. Over his career, he has played in 152 games (118 starts), amassing 448 total tackles (13 for loss), 122 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and 25 interceptions. He started just six games for the Falcons last year before injuring his pectoral, finishing with 17 total tackles, three pass breakups and an interception.

Hayward has played the bulk of his snaps on the outside, but he has also played over 1,650 in the slot, so he possesses a versatility that could help needy teams. Depending on the severity of Gordon’s injury, the Bears may well be one of them.

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