Walker signed a two-year deal with Chicago on March 15 worth up to $4.15 million, with $2 million fully guaranteed, but he struggled mightily in the preseason, getting outplayed by undrafted free agent Tyson Bagent.
Walker, who played with the Carolina Panthers before heading to Chicago, completed 47.8% of his passes in his three preseason appearances, averaging just 4.2 yards per attempt (stats via Pro Football Focus). He went 11-of-23 for 96 yards, a touchdown and an interception, but considering his two-year deal and guaranteed money, many felt the Bears would surely keep him on their 53-man roster. Daniel was clearly among them.
“This is very surprising to me,” Daniel wrote on the social media platform X shortly after Walker’s release, adding: “especially after the money given in free agency.”
Bears Nation Reacts to PJ Walker Cut
Daniel knows a thing or two about being a backup quarterback. The 37-year-old, who spent the last two seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers backing up Justin Herbert, has played for seven different teams over his 12 years in the league, serving as a backup every year.
The veteran signal-caller had the best two statistical seasons of his career with the Bears when he backed up Mitchell Trubisky in 2018 and 2019. He appeared in eight games for the Bears, starting three, while throwing for 950 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions. Daniel is currently without a team, but he could land somewhere if injuries were to strike a QB-needy squad.
In addition to Daniel, many Bears fans and analysts were caught off guard by Walker’s release. Sean Hammond of Shaw Local Media was one of many analysts who had projected Walker making Chicago’s final roster:
Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times referenced Walker’s 2022 win over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, suggesting Walker became the “worst version” of himself in his short time with the Bears:
Several analysts, including Jacob Infante of Windy City Gridiron, credited Bears general manager Ryan Poles with recognizing his error in signing Walker:
In addition to releasing Walker, the Bears also severed ties with offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood, who was due $4.5 million in guaranteed money, and they waived rookie UDFA offensive lineman Gabe Houy with an injury designation.
Undrafted Free Agent Tyson Bagent Won Backup QB Role
The Bears signed Bagent, a Division II standout at Shepherd University, after he went undrafted in the 2023 draft. He is now in line to back up starting quarterback Justin Fields.
In three preseason games, Bagent went 20-of-29 for 156 yards (5.4 yards per attempt), an interception and two rushing TDs. He also had a touchdown dropped in Chicago’s third preseason game against the Buffalo Bills.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Bagent completed 400-of-572 of his passing attempts for 4,580 yards, 41 touchdowns and eight interceptions over his four years at Shepherd, and he has won over a good deal of Bears fans with his spunk and hard-playing demeanor.
“I feel as if I’ve proved that I belong and that I belong in the league,” Bagent said after Chicago’s third and final preseason game.
He’s not the only one who holds that belief. Bagent has earned this opportunity. It’ll be interesting to see what he does with it.