Bears Cut Specialist to Make Room for WR N’Keal Harry

N'Keal Harry

Getty WR N'Keal Harry dives for the end zone pylon.

The Chicago Bears officially announced the N’Keal Harry trade on July 13.

The addition of the former New England Patriots wide receiver resulted the release of the Bears waived long snapper Antonio Ortiz in a corresponding roster move, the team also announced.

The release of Ortiz is no surprise, as the Bears also brought back incumbent long snapper Patrick Scales, who has spent the last six years in Chicago. With Cairo Santos the team’s returning kicker, Scales the presumed long snapper and 2022 seventh-round draft pick Trenton Gill taking the reins at punter from Pat O’Donnell, Chicago’s three specialist roles appear set heading into training camp.

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Bears’ Rookie Punter Set to Play Key Role on Special Teams

The last time the Bears drafted a punter, they selected O’Donnell in the sixth round of the 2014 draft. He wound up being the team’s punter for eight years, also serving as the holder for kickers on extra points. Expect Gill to fill that role moving forward, as it’s something he also did in college at NC State.

“Gill has a strong leg to flip the field and places the ball nicely, especially to the right,” Hoge wrote on May 4. “He can also boom the ball on kickoffs if necessary and was North Carolina State’s holder too.”

Another thing Gill did in college was perform kickoffs, and it remains to be seen whether he’ll do that in Chicago. Regardless, the rookie is ready for whatever he’s tasked with.

“What kind of separates me is my mentality,” Gill told Sports Illustrated. “I’m gonna outwork everyone and do what I have to do to be successful at this level.”

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Harry Responds to His Trade on Social Media

The addition of Harry will likely be the last one the team makes before training camp kicks off on July 26 (rookies report on July 23). The Bears sent minimal draft capital — a 2024 seventh-rounder — to New England to take a flier on Harry, who was a first-round selection out of Arizona State (32nd overall) in 2019.

Harry took to Twitter shortly after the trade was officially announced with a simple, five-word message for Bears Nation:

Harry’s agent Jamal Tooson said this was a great outcome for the 6-foot-4, 225-pound wideout. “I really want to thank Bill Belichick, Eliot Wolf and the entire Patriots staff for working with me to find a mutually beneficial outcome to both the Patriots and N’Keal, and we’re thrilled to be a Chicago Bear,” Tooson told PFF after the trade.

The addition of Harry makes the Bears’ WR room a crowded one. Darnell Mooney and Byron Pringle will be ahead of him on the depth chart, and rookie third-rounder Velus Jones Jr. should be, too.

After that, Harry has a chance to stand out in a group that features: Equanimeous St. Brown, Dante Pettis, Tajae Sharpe, Dazz Newsome, David Moore, Kevin Shaa, Nsimba Webster, Chris Finke and Isaiah Coulter.

We’ll see what happens, but the opportunity is there if he seizes it.

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