The Chicago Bears are adding players on both sides of the ball. The Bears have agreed to terms with Tyrone T.J. Wheatley Jr., per Wheatley’s agent, Jordan Thompson of Element Sports Group. Wheatley was one of five free agents to get a tryout at veteran minicamps this week, and the Bears must have liked what they saw.
The Bears are also adding veteran defensive lineman Mike Pennel, who played in 14 games for the Kansas City Chiefs last season. Pennel was another of the five aforementioned free agents trying out for Chicago this week. Pennel’s agent, Andy Simms, announced the signing on Twitter, noting it was a one-year deal.
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Wheatley Just Spent Some Time in the Spring League
Wheatley is the son of former Michigan legend and NFL running back Tyrone Wheatley Sr., who played in the NFL for 10 seasons with the New York Giants and the then-Oakland Raiders. Wheatley Sr. is best known for being one of the most decorated and well-respected players in Wolverines history, winning two Big Ten championships while getting named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in 1992. He remains Michigan’s fourth all-time leading rusher, and his name still peppers the record books there. Wheatley Jr. also attended the University of Michigan, but he did not have the same success his father did.
The younger Wheatley played tight end at Michigan, but he didn’t stand out at the position, and he transferred to Stony Brook his senior season, where he failed to make much of an impression. He did, however, get noticed when playing in the Spring League this year, where he transitioned to offensive line.
Here’s what Ric Serritella of Sports Illustrated had to say about his Spring League play: “Wheatley has been on a mission since his days as a highly-recruited tight end at Michigan, before transferring to Stony Brook. He finished his collegiate career at Morgan State, playing under his father, head coach Tyrone Wheatley Sr. and converted from tight end to tackle. With his best football still ahead of him, Wheatley is a lump of clay who is still young enough to develop into a valuable pro.”
We’ll see if o-line Juan Castillo can mold him.
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Pennel Will Be D-Line Depth in Wake of Eddie Goldman’s Absence
After starting nose tackle Eddie Goldman did not report to the team’s mandatory veteran minicamp on June 15, Chicago added some depth for the middle of its defensive line in Pennel.
Bears head coach Matt Nagy was visibly annoyed with Goldman’s absence, which he made a point to note was unexcused. Goldman opted out last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and he was expected by many to have returned already. He hasn’t, and now the Bears have added some insurance in Pennel.
The 30-year-old vet signed with the Green Bay Packers in 2014 as an undrafted free agent, and he has also spent time with the New York Jets and the Chiefs. He has played in 91 games, starting 16 over his seven seasons in the league. Pennel earned a 68.5 overall rating from PFF last season with the Chiefs, and a 69.8 run stopping grade, so he could help fill in on the off chance Goldman’s return isn’t a timely one.