The Chicago Bears aren’t going to have both Mack brothers on their 53-man roster this season. A few days after he played in his first-ever preseason game August 14 against the Miami Dolphins, the team announced it had waived linebacker Ledarius Mack, younger brother to All-Pro pass rusher Khalil.
The Bears also released defensive back Michael Joseph in order to get their roster down to the required 80 players by August 17.
The younger Mack played defensive end in college, and he played at the University of Buffalo like his brother, but unlike Khalil, Ledarius was an undrafted free agent. He spent the entire 2020 season on Chicago’s practice squad, and he recorded one quarterback hit in his lone preseason appearance this year. With the additions of linebackers Alec Ogletree and Jeremiah Attaochu this offseason, there was likely no more room on the roster for the second-year linebacker, who now finds himself back on the market.
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Khalil Mack Spoke Highly of His Brother Hours Before His Release
When meeting with the media after practice on August 17, Khalil was asked about playing alongside his little brother, and whether he found it challenging striking a solid balance between being a critical teammate while also being a supportive big brother. This is what Mack said in response:
“Oh man, that’s a good question. I’ve never really thought about it like that. I feel like I’m always the big brother when it comes to being out there, especially with him, coaching him through things, even in the offseason, so it’s like a continuation of that when we’re on the field. It’s just having fun, doing what we love to do, but also understanding that it’s a job that we have to do at a high level. And I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure you do it at a high level. I need you to make sure I keep playing at that high level as well. So show me and tell me what I’m doing wrong as well.”
It’s clear Khalil valued playing with his brother, but it’s also clear the three-time All-Pro understands that football is a business, and these moves happen.
If Mack doesn’t catch on elsewhere else, there’s still a chance Chicago will sign him for Year 2 on the practice squad, but that decision is still several weeks away. Both Mack and Joseph were waived with injury designations, per Lester Wiltfong of SB Nation’s Windy City Gridiron, so a return to Chicago is still possible.
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Bears Hoped to Find Unique Role for Ledarius
Mack was one of 11 UDFAs signed by Chicago last year, and he was initially supposed to carve out a role on special teams with the hope that he might also hone his skills as a pass rusher during his time on the practice squad.
At 6-foot-1 and 240-pounds, the younger Mack is far smaller than Khalil, who is 6-3 and 270 pounds, and he never quite managed to find a niche on punt or kickoff return coverage — an area that was noticeably bad in Chicago’s preseason opener against the Dolphins.
In his final season at the University of Buffalo, Mack had 8.0 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, 3 fumble recoveries and 2 forced fumbles. We’ll see if he garners any interest now that he’s on the waiver wire.