Bears Cut Ties With Veteran Safety Ahead of Panthers Matchup

Duron Harmon Release Bears Roster Moves

Getty Bears head coach Matt Eberflus subtracted two players from his secondary ahead Thursday Night Football against the Panthers.

The Chicago Bears are cutting loose two members of their secondary — including veteran free safety Duron Harmon — in a pair of roster moves ahead of their Week 10 matchup with the Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night Football.

According to the team’s official transaction wire for November 8, the Bears released both Harmon and slot cornerback Greg Stroman Jr. from their 53-man roster on Wednesday. The roster moves set the stage for Chicago to activate at least two of their three injured players who are eligible for activation ahead of Thursday night’s game.

The Bears signed Harmon to their active roster on October 3 to add depth while Eddie Jackson was sidelined with a foot injury. He also made one start at free safety in place of Jackson during Week 8’s prime-time matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers. After the Bears took Jackson off the injury report last week, though, the reasons have run out for Chicago to keep a backup safety who does not contribute on special teams.

As for Stroman, the 27-year-old cornerback also became redundant in recent weeks. The Bears signed him up from the practice squad after starting slot cornerback Kyler Gordon broke his hand in the season opener, but he has not played a single defensive snap since Gordon returned from injured reserve in Week 6.

On the bright side, Stroman’s solid stretch of play in the slot — which included a sack, an interception and two tackles for loss — should make him a candidate to return to the practice squad. The Bears will need him to clear the waiver wire to re-sign him, though.

Bears Expected to Make at Least 2 More Roster Moves

The Bears clearing a few spots on their 53-man roster makes sense. They designated three players — Khalil Herbert, Equanimeous St. Brown and Josh Blackwell — for return from injured reserve at the beginning of Week 10 and are expected to activate at least a few of them on game day after all three of them practiced in full this week.

With only two spots open right now, though, which two will the Bears activate?

There is a good chance Blackwell is one of them. After all, the Bears kept him as their backup slot cornerback over Stroman coming into the season and only went a different direction because of his injury. It makes sense they would trade them out again now that Blackwell appears to have a healthy hamstring and is eligible for activation.

In the end, the Bears might still activate all three of them. They would need to make another corresponding move to free up the necessary roster space, but they could cut another player who has fallen down the depth chart like Duron Harmon. They could also potentially put a player on injured reserve; although, there are reasons why the Bears might look to avoid playing that card for the remainder of the season.

Bears Have Nearly Exhausted All IR Return Options

The Bears are likely going to activate all three of their designated-for-return players at some point, if not ahead of Week 10’s game with the Panthers. Once they do, though, they will have exhausted all of their options for returning players from IR in 2023.

The Bears are on the brink of using up their three remaining opportunities to designate players to return from injured reserve. NFL teams have the opportunity to return up to eight players from IR during the season, and the Bears have already returned five between Teven Jenkins, Kyler Gordon, Doug Kramer (no longer on the roster), Khalid Kareem (also off the roster) and Braxton Jones.

As ESPN’s Courtney Cronin noted, the Bears have “a numbers game” to navigate when it comes to placing players on IR and activating them back to the 53-man roster. Their lack of remaining activation opportunities could also be one of the reasons why they did not place either quarterback Justin Fields or right guard Nate Davis on the injury list.

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