Bears Claim ‘Slippery’ Slot WR Off Waivers

Chris Finke

Getty Wide receiver Chris Finke has signed with the Chicago Bears.

The Chicago Bears have added another wide receiver with past connections to general manager Ryan Poles.

Per the NFL’s May 4 official transaction report, the Bears has claimed former Kansas City Chiefs wideout Chris Finke off waivers. The team confirmed the news via Twitter.

Kansas City waived Finke, an undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame, on May 3 after signing him to a reserve/future deal in January 2021. Finke spent some time on the practice squad of the San Francisco 49ers in 2020 before catching on with the Chiefs in May of last year. He was released with an injury settlement prior to the start of the 2021 regular season, however.

A native of Dayton, Ohio, Finke has yet to play in an NFL game. He’ll be reunited with a few familiar faces in the Windy City in former Chiefs assistant/executive director of player personnel Poles, who is the Bears’ new GM, and in Bears starting tight end Cole Kmet, who he was teammates with at Notre Dame from 2017-19.

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Finke: Background & Stats

The 5-foot-9, 186-pound Finke is undersized, and as a result, he was a walk-on at Notre Dame under former head coach Brian Kelly in 2015. He didn’t play as a freshman, but he saw the field as a sophomore, appearing minimally in 10 games.

He earned more playing time as an upperclassman, also showing value as a punt returner. Finke finished with 1,251 receiving yards, eight touchdown receptions and 602 yards returning punts in his four seasons with the Irish.

A decent athlete, Finke ran a 4.57-second 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine, and he had an impressive 40-inch vertical leap. draft expert Lance Zierlein notes that while Finke earned the nickname ‘Slippery Fox’ due to his ability to slide out of the grips of opposing tacklers, there are significant limits to his game due to his size. Here’s what Zierlein wrote about the young wideout in his 2020 draft profile:

“Smallish slot target who operates with consistent play speed and soft hands, but lacks the physical/play traits to stand out in the crowd. He gets moderate separation against average competition but athletic slot cornerbacks with the ability to hound his release will be tough for him to beat. His punt return ability helps his cause but it’s an uphill battle for a slot spot on a roster.”

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Finke Will Face Uphill Battle to Make Bears Roster

With Darnell Mooney the Bears’ presumed WR1, the depth behind him is questionable at best — but nearly everyone in Chicago’s wide receivers room has more experience in the league than Finke does.

The Bears added free agents David Moore, Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown this offseason, and they just drafted receiver Velus Jones Jr. There’s also second-year wideout Dazz Newsome, along with Nsimba Webster and Isaiah Coulter — all of whom also have return experience.

He’s a long shot to make the 53-man roster, but Finke is scrappy, and a little scrappiness can go a long way in the NFL.

If he doesn’t make the roster, the practice squad is also a possibility, and he’ll add even more competition to a growing receivers room. It’ll be interesting to watch what happens with him.

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