Saturday, August 6, 2022

The Bears sign the former USFL star and add depth to the linebacker, sources say

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Demarquis Gates is the latest USFL star to find a chance in the NFL.

The Chicago Bears reinforced their depth as a linebacker and signed Gates on Friday, Aug. 5 after a practice session with the team, league sources told Heavy.

Gates was a key cog in the USFL’s Birmingham Stallions championship season last spring. He produced 62 total tackles, added 6.5 sacks and intercepted a pass.

Gates was one of the most dominant defenders in the USFL and arguably the best linebacker in the league. Gates was twice named Defensive Player of the Week, including a Stallions win over the Philadelphia Stars in which he recorded a crucial stripsack from Case Cookus that helped seal the win for Birmingham.

Originally signed by the Cleveland Browns as Ole Miss’s undrafted free agent in 2018, Gates served time in the Cleveland Browns, Washington and Minnesota Vikings organizations before landing with the Bears this summer. However, he has yet to appear in an NFL game.

Gates is returning to the NFL with the Bears after appearing in the USFL, CFL, XFL and AAF since 2019. In his professional career, Gates has a total of 177 tackles with 9.5 sacks and a few interceptions.

It should come as no surprise that the Bears are looking for linebacker help this summer.

Chicago getting in the way of available linebackers is likely at least in part because two-time All-Pro Roquan checks into camp and is immediately placed on the physically disabled list.

Smith is one of the fundamental building blocks of the Bears’ defense, and even if he does get back on the field in time for the regular season opener, Gates has the potential to compete on special teams and push for significant snaps on defense during the preseason.

The Bears finished last season 6th in total defense, giving up just 316.7 yards per game.

Given Gates’ dominance of the USFL and the opportunity to see additional replays during practice while Smith is sidelined on the PUP roster, he has a legitimate shot at contending for a roster spot.

The spring leagues have had minimal success in terms of financial stability and longevity, but the USFL has done a solid job of producing a pipeline of talent for the NFL.

Gates is now the 34th player to sign with an NFL team since the league’s championship game on July 3.

In all, there were 23 teams that signed at least one player from the Spring League. Six teams have signed more than one player from the USFL this summer as training camps get underway.

The USFL has already confirmed that there will be a second season in 2023, which will offer even more opportunities for players to put out quality films in hopes of getting an NFL opportunity like Gates did with the Bears.

CONTINUE READING: Mailbag: Predictions by the AFC, the Cowboys’ Top Concern and the Lions’ Advantage

CONTINUE READING: Mailbag: Predictions by the AFC, the Cowboys’ Top Concern and the Lions’ Advantage

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