Bears Waive Rookie WR to Clear Room for Former Rams TE

Pinkney Bears Moves

Getty Former Rams tight end Jared Pinkney has signed with the Bears.

The Chicago Bears added a tight end and cut loose one of their rookie wide receivers a day before their first padded training camp practice on August 1.

According to the team’s official transaction wire for Monday, July 31, the Bears signed former Los Angeles Rams tight end Jared Pinkney to their 90-man roster on Monday and waived undrafted rookie wideout Thyrick Pitts to free up a roster spot for him.

Pitts was one of two undrafted rookie wide receivers who signed with the Bears on May 4 following the conclusion of the NFL draft, but he had been outshined by fellow UDFA receiver Aron Cruickshank in the first few practices of training camp. Cruickshank, out of Rutgers, even pulled down a nice one-handed grab during July 26’s open-to-media session.

Even with Pitts no longer in the picture, though, Cruickshank and other roster-fringe receivers could have a tough time finding a place on Chicago’s final 53-man roster.

The Bears have three veteran starters — D.J. Moore, Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool — and two recent draft picks — rookie Tyler Scott and second-year Velus Jones Jr. — who are all near certain to make the roster on the August 29 deadline to finalize the roster. They also have 2021 starters Dante Pettis and Equanimeous St. Brown pushing for roles in the rotation, creating difficult conditions for Cruickshank and the other receivers to become one of the 53.

Unlike in previous years, the Bears and other NFL teams will only have one cutdown date — Tuesday, August 29 — to take the roster from 90 players currently in camp to the 53 who will be on the team for opening day. They will also have three preseason games to play before making their cut decisions, a slate that begins for the Bears with their home exhibition game against the Tennessee Titans on Saturday, August 12.

Jared Pinkney Was Originally Considered 1st-Round Talent

Pinkney was named to the watchlist for the John Mackey Award (awarded to college football’s most outstanding tight end) in each of his final two seasons at Vanderbilt and was considered to be a potential first-round NFL talent entering his redshirt senior year in 2019. Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus even compared him to top-10 pick T.J. Hockenson in his preseason 2020 mock draft, projecting him to go No. 29 overall.

“Pinkney’s receiving ability is right up there with last year’s top-10 pick T.J. Hockenson’s,” Renner wrote. “While Pinkney isn’t near the blocker that Hockenson is, the Vanderbilt tight end is arguably a more polished route-runner already. He broke nine tackles on 50 catches last season.”

Unfortunately for his draft stock, Pinkney experienced a massive dropoff in the final year of his collegiate eligibility, going from 50 receptions for 774 yards and seven touchdowns in 2018 to just 20 catches for 233 yards and two touchdowns in 2019. While analysts, such as’s Lance Zierlein, still projected him to be a late-round selection, he ended up going undrafted and signing with the Atlanta Falcons.

Since then, Pinkney has mostly bounced around between background roles in the NFL. He spent his entire rookie season on the Falcons’ practice squad, but they declined to bring him back for a second season in 2021. He has also had stints with Tennessee Titans, Detroit Lions (twice) and Rams (twice) since leaving Atlanta. In that time, he has played just 47 offensive snaps in six games and never been thrown a pass.

Who Will Emerge as Bears’ TE3 to Start 2023 Season?

The Bears have a clear picture of their top two tight ends on the depth chart heading into the second week of camp. Cole Kmet — who just signed a four-year, $50 million extension through the 2027 season last week — is their primary starter while newly signed veteran Robert Tonyan Jr. offers a quality complement who can both catch and block for their offense.

At this point, though, it is unclear who the Bears will choose to back them up.

With the addition of Pinkney, the Bears now have four tight ends competing behind Kmet and Tonyan with Chase Allen, Jake Tonges and Stephen Carlson also in the mix. Allen and Tonges were both with the Bears in 2022, but time spent learning the offense is their only real advantage after contributing next to nothing in their limited snaps.

The 26-year-old Carlson can at least claim some offensive production. Over 25 career games, he has caught six of his nine targets for 62 yards and a touchdown and has also gotten more than 200 snaps of blocking experience, primarily to help the run game. The concern with him, though, is that he has not played a regular-season snap since 2020, missing all of the 2021 season with a torn ACL and being unable to find a new roster space for the 2022 season.

Perhaps Pinkney can take advantage of the low levels of experience in the Bears’ tight end room and reignite his career, but he will have just as much to prove as the rest.

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