Aug 05, 2022
Bears sign former USFL star, adding depth at linebacker, sources say
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Getty Images DeMarquis Gates #58 of the Memphis Express grabs Marshaun Coprich #24 of the Birmingham Iron during the first quarter of their Alliance of American Football game at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on March 24, 2019 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/AAF/Getty Images)
Demarquis Gates is the latest USFL star to find an opportunity in the NFL.
The Chicago Bears bolstered their depth at linebacker, signing Gates on Friday, August 5 following a workout with the team, league sources told Heavy.
This past spring, Gates was a key cog in the USFL’s Birmingham Stallions’ championship season, producing 62 total tackles, while adding 6.5 sacks, and intercepting a pass.
Gates was one of the USFL’s most dominant defenders, and arguably the premier linebacker in the league. Gates took home Defensive Player of The Week honors twice, including from a Stallions victory over the Philadelphia Stars that saw him record a pivotal strip-sack of Case Cookus that helped seal the win for Birmingham.
Originally signed by the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent out of Ole Miss back in 2018, Gates has spent time in the Cleveland Browns, Washington, and Minnesota Vikings organizations, prior to landing with the Bears this summer. However, he has yet to appear in an NFL game.
Gates returning to the NFL, with the Bears, comes after he has made appearances in the USFL, CFL, XFL, and AAF, dating back to 2019. In his professional career, Gates has produced 177 total tackles, with 9.5 sacks, and a pair of interceptions.How Demarquis Gates fits with Chicago Bears
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Bears are in the market for help at linebacker this summer.
Chicago kicking the tires on available linebackers likely is at least partially due to two-time All-Pro Roquan checking into training camp and immediately being placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
Smith is one of the Bears’ foundational building blocks on defense, and even if he is going to be back on the field in time for the regular season opener, Gates has the potential to compete on special teams and push for meaningful snaps on defense during the preseason.
The Bears finished last season ranked No. 6 in total defense, surrendering just 316.7 yards per game.
Given Gates’ dominance over the USFL, and the opportunity to see extra reps during practice as long as Smith is sidelined on the PUP list, he has a legitimate chance to compete for a roster spot.USFL to NFL pipeline continues
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 to the NFL.
Gates now becomes the 34th player to sign with an NFL team, since the league’s championship game back on July 3.
All told, there have been 23 teams that have signed at least one player from the spring league. Six teams have signed more than one player from the USFL to contracts this summer, as training camps kick into gear.
The USFL has already confirmed that there will be a second season in 2023, which will present even more chances for players to put quality film out there, in hopes of landing an NFL opportunity, as Gates has with the Bears.
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News Source: Heavy.com
Tags: football nfl breaking news 5 fast facts crime politics shopping the usfl’s the cleveland browns one player with the bears total tackles spring league chicago bears the usfl getty images the usfl have signed this summer in the usfl
6-Time All-Star Urged to Leave Nets, Sign With Western Powerhouse
Getty PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - MARCH 10: Andre Drummond #0,Ben Simmons #10,Blake Griffin #2,Nic Claxton #33 and Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets react to a teammate's shot in the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center on March 10, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Brooklyn Nets defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 129-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
The Brooklyn Nets are still trying to compete for a championship as long as Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons and Kyrie Irving are on the roster.
In the case of Durant, that’s no guarantee as the forward has requested a trade from the Nets, but there hasn’t been a whole lot of movement on that since June. As of right now, it’s tough to know for certain if he’ll even be moved, but that hasn’t stopped some other members of the team from jumping ship.
Starters Andre Drummond and Bruce Brown have already departed, and there’s a chance even more players will be going. Although he was already unlikely to return, Blake Griffin seemed to have earned himself another contract with his strong play in the playoffs against the Celtics.
The Los Angeles Lakers have already been linked to the 6-time All-Star via an NBA executive speaking to Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney.
“Look, you do not want to get hit with Covid issues again this year, no team does,” the exec told Deveney. “You are going to need a couple of roster spots for veterans who can be thrown into the mix without missing a beat and Blake can do that. The Lakers took some swings on young guys, but give me a veteran on that roster and I feel a lot better about the depth trouble they might wind up having. But that kind of thing is on hold until the Lakers figure out what they’re doing with the rest of their summer here.”
Building off that, Sports Illustrated’s Ben Stinar also believes the Lakers would be a good landing spot for Griffin at this stage of his career, and the Lakers could certainly use all the help they can get.Griffin to Los Angeles
It might feel like a long time ago at this point, but Griffin’s best days as a pro came during his run with the Clippers.
This would bring him back to the city, but just for the other team. Playing alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis could work wonders for him in the twilight of his career, however. Stinar lists some good reasons as to why signing Griffin would work for the Lakers.
“Griffin is 33 years old, but he is far from his prime, so he will likely be available for the veteran’s minimum,” he wrote. “He can be a very good bench player for the Lakers, and he has experience over the last few seasons playing as a role player behind stars (Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant on the Nets).”
Griffin won’t be relied on for much in Los Angeles, quite similar to his role with the Nets, so he could still relatively fresh for when he’s called upon. Then again, he did find himself out of the rotation by the end of the year and only got playing time in the playoffs when the Nets were out of options.Would Griffin be Interested?
If Griffin is interested in winning an NBA championship before retirement, the Lakers might not be his best option even with Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis and LeBron James on the roster.
The Lakers are coming off a season where they missed the playoffs entirely, and signing Griffin wouldn’t do a whole lot to move the needle. Los Angeles will need a lot more help than him, and a trade for Kyrie Irving would be able to accomplish that, but it’s unclear if the Lakers have the assets to convince the Nets to trade their star guard.
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