Jan 15, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Las Vegas Raiders guard Alex Leatherwood (70) reacts after their loss against the Cincinnati Bengals in an AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Bears place OL Alex Leatherwood on NFI list, out 4 weeks

The Chicago Bears placed offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood on the non-football injury and illness list Wednesday.

The 2021 first-round pick will be sidelined for a minimum of four weeks. NFL Network reported he has mononucleosis.

“We feel great about where he is and him coming back,” Bears coach Matt Eberflus told reporters Wednesday.

Leatherwood, 23, was inactive for last Sunday’s season-opening win against the San Francisco 49ers.

He started all 17 games as a rookie last season with the Las Vegas Raiders, who waived him on Aug. 30. The Bears claimed him the following day.

Chicago re-signed offensive lineman Michael Schofield in a corresponding move. The Bears released him on Aug. 30 to reach the 53-man roster limit.

Schofield, 31, has played in 102 games (81 starts) with the Denver Broncos (2015-16), Los Angeles Chargers (2017-19, 2021) and Carolina Panthers (2020). He was part of the Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 winning season as a rookie.

–Field Level Media

Jan 15, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Las Vegas Raiders guard Alex Leatherwood (70) reacts after their loss against the Cincinnati Bengals in an AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Lot of juggling, surprise moves on NFL cutdown day

It’s a whirlwind every year when the NFL cutdown to 53 arrives with teams juggling numerous balls.

Who to cut? Which veterans to inform they are being released, but will return when players can be placed on short-term reserve/injured after the close of business Wednesday. Hoping players will clear waivers so they can be signed to the practice squad.

The numbers are large. Tuesday, there were 599 players waived, 36 of whom were injured and 113 with partially guaranteed contracts. There were also 150 vested veterans that had their contracts terminated, 10 with injury settlements. Add to that eight players traded, 32 placed on reserve lists (including six suspended).

Wednesday morning, 33 players were assigned to teams on waivers, meaning that same number had to come off rosters believing they had made it.

There are always surprises, although some of those are only because they have recognizable names.

The Eye-Openers

Tennessee punter Brett Kern: He played 13 seasons with the Titans and is fourth in club history with 197 games played, having punted a franchise-most 923 times. Kern also owns the best all-time team average (45.9) and net average (40.8) and was a captain the last two seasons. His replacement will be Colorado State rookie free agent Ryan Stonehouse, who had a 50.2 average, 41.3 net and landed six of his 13 preseason punts inside the 20-yard line.

Arizona edge rusher Devon Kennard: The Cardinals lost Chandler Jones in free agency and Kennard accepted a pay cut from $6.75 million to $1.12 million with $600,000 guaranteed in March. He was cut anyway. The Cardinals selected pass rushers Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders in the third round of the draft, but the player that knocked Kennard off the roster was Victor Dimukeje. A sixth-round pick in 2021, he was credited with making huge strides in the offseason and with his speed had two sacks in the preseason opener against Cincinnati.

Detroit quarterbacks Tim Boyle and David Blough: Boyle had his contract terminated Tuesday and then Blough was waived Wednesday when the Lions signed Nate Sudfeld. Blough has been featured frequently on Hard Knocks, not that it has anything to do with roster decisions. It’s simply odd that a team would cut its two backup quarterbacks to sign someone totally new that has a lot to learn in his new surroundings. Sudfeld has been in the NFL since 2016 and had his contract terminated by the 49ers on Tuesday. It’s possible Blough could be signed to the practice squad.

Buffalo tight end O.J. Howard: He has never lived up to expectations after being a first-round pick by the Buccaneers in 2017. He was able to command only a one-year contract with the Bills as a free agent this year, and despite being guaranteed nearly $3.2 million, he was cut. Howard was reportedly visiting Cincinnati on Wednesday, but by the end of the day, there had been no signing.

Las Vegas tackle/guard Alex Leatherwood: Ouch! Selected 17th overall by the Raiders in 2021, he changed positions as a rookie and then was waived by the team’s new coaching staff Tuesday. Las Vegas failed to find a trade partner before cutting him and the Bears claimed him on waivers Wednesday. His salary is guaranteed for this season, but it’s only $1.3 million. Can Chicago get out of him what the Raiders couldn’t? The odds are low because there were a lot of raised eyebrows when he was drafted at that spot.

–By Howard Balzer, Field Level Media

Jan 15, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Las Vegas Raiders guard Alex Leatherwood (70) reacts after their loss against the Cincinnati Bengals in an AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Bears claim OL Alex Leatherwood off waivers

The Chicago Bears claimed former first-round pick and offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood off waivers Wednesday, one of several claims awarded to the club.

Leatherwood, 23, was cast off on deadline day Tuesday by the Las Vegas Raiders, who selected him No. 17 overall in the 2021 draft. He started all 17 games as a rookie in 2021.

The Bears claimed six players on Wednesday, the most of any club in the NFL.

In addition to Leatherwood, the team claimed defensive back Josh Blackwell from Philadelphia, defensive end Jonathan Kingsley from Buffalo, defensive lineman Armon Watts from Minnesota, linebacker Sterling Weatherford from Indianapolis, and tight end Trevon Wesco from the New York Jets.

Watts was another surprising cut Tuesday by the Vikings. He had five sacks and 10 QB hits in 17 games (nine starts) in 2021.

Leatherwood is entering the second season of a four-year, $14.4 million rookie deal, for which the Bears are now on the hook for the remainder.

The Bears will need to cut six players to make room on the 53-man roster.

–Field Level Media

Jan 15, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Las Vegas Raiders guard Alex Leatherwood (70) reacts after their loss against the Cincinnati Bengals in an AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Raiders cutting ’21 first-rounder Alex Leatherwood

Offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood, the Raiders’ first-round pick in 2021, reportedly will not make the 53-man roster in Las Vegas.

Multiple outlets reported Tuesday that the Raiders attempted to trade the 23-year-old tackle before opting to release him.

Leatherwood was the 17th overall pick out of Alabama and he started all 17 games as a rookie, lining up at right guard.

He is entering the second season of a four-year, $14.4 million rookie deal.

–Field Level Media