According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, a new bylaw proposal was approved at the NFL’s spring meeting on May 22 that allows clubs to dress a third quarterback for games without using one of their 48 game-day roster spots. The option is only available when the other two quarterbacks are unavailable due to injury or disqualification.
The rule change — which is outlined in a memo that Pelissero tweeted — specifies that the third quarterback cannot have been called up from the practice squad as a game-day elevation and must be signed to their 53-man roster. With the rule in mind, there is now a benefit for teams to consider carrying a third quarterback on their active roster instead of stashing him on their practice squad, as the Bears have done in the past.
For Bagent, a record-setting Division II quarterback out of Shepherd, the rule change could be a blessing. The Bears have their top two quarterback spots locked up with Justin Fields back as the starter and P.J. Walker signing a two-year contract to become his new backup in March, but Bagent is expected to duel with Nathan Peterman in OTAs and training camp for the third spot on the depth chart.
If that role comes with an active-roster spot, it becomes all the sweeter to the winner.
Tyson Bagent Had Standout Week at Senior Bowl
Bagent — pronounced like ‘agent’ — was one of college football’s most prolific passers across all divisions during the 2022 season. Over 15 starts, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound signal-caller completed 400-of-572 passes (69.9%) for 4,580 yards, 41 touchdowns and just eight interceptions, guiding Shepherd all the way to the Division II semifinals.
For his efforts, Bagent earned first-team All-American recognition and was named a Division II Player of the Year finalist. He also scored invites to the NFL Scouting Combine and the 2023 Senior Bowl, the latter of which gave him the opportunity to work with Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy as his coach during the showcase.
Bagent didn’t have trouble fitting in with the Division I talents in the Senior Bowl field. Not too surprising considering, according to The Athletic, he was drawing interest in 2022 from some reputable D-I programs, including Maryland and West Virginia. He ended up completing 17-of-22 passes for 138 yards for the American team, but more notable was his elusiveness in the pocket and the accuracy he showed on his throws.
Bears Could Feature Tyson Bagent During Preseason
The Bears are betting big on Fields as their long-term quarterback solution in 2023, but the odds of him playing significant reps in the preseason are relatively low based on how Matt Eberflus’ coaching staff chose to use him in 2022 during their first year. With that in mind, the preseason could end up featuring quite a bit of Bagent.
The Bears are certainly going to give some of the preseason reps to Walker as their backup, but there will be plenty of room left for them to more firmly determine who is the better quarterback between Bagent and Peterman if both are still on the roster when training camp arrives at the end of July.
Peterman spent the majority of the 2022 season on the Bears’ practice squad and has an edge over Bagent in terms of system familiarity and overall NFL experience, but the 2017 fifth-round pick has seldom done anything impressive throughout his pro career. At 29, there also isn’t a ton of potential to develop him into a more formidable passer, whereas Bagent has all the makings of a developmental project for Getsy and the Bears.
Realistically, Bagent’s potential fit with the Bears will depend on how he adjusts to the speed of the NFL. Going from Division II to Division I is difficult enough, but leaping all the way up from Division II to the NFL is something few quarterbacks succeed at. If he can pick up where he left off at the Senior Bowl, though, he might just pull off the unlikely — especially with the new rule change benefitting his cause.