Numbers crunching will be tough at several roster positions for Bears

The number of backs, quarterbacks, receivers and tight ends to keep could give the Bears math headaches.

The makeup of this season's Bears roster could change somewhat in a few different ways.

The biggest changes could be at tight end, running back and quarterback.

Quarterback Tyler Bray is at a point now where he no longer has practice squad eligibility. He used up the last of it last season prior to being put on the regular roster when Mitchell Trubisky suffered a shoulder injury.

If they want three quarterbacks, and they haven't really indicated they want a different player as a practice squad type, then they'll have to put Bray on the regular roster. It will cost them a position elsewhere.

They kept five tight ends on the roster last year with Trey Burton, Dion Sims, Adam Shaheen, Daniel Brown and Ben Braunecker, before putting Shaheen on revocable injured reserve due to a foot injury suffered in the third preseason game.

This year it would be easy to see the Bears keeping only three tight ends, unless there is another injury. Much could depend on whether Bradley Sowell is able to show he can play the position or if any of several undrafted rookie tight ends show enough to stick on the roster.

Another change will be at running back. Considering how excited Matt Nagy was about the speed of Kerrith Whyte during offseason work, it would seem unlikely they'd keep only three running backs and a fullback like last season. It would be four running backs. The Bears don't really use the fullback position in their shotgun, anyway.

Last year they retained six wide receivers for the roster and one, Josh Bellamy, contributed greatly on special teams. With Bellamy gone, and Kevin White also gone, spots are open for Cordarrelle Patterson and rookie Riley Ridley.

During the offseason, general manager Ryan Pace said he wouldn't have a problem if they decided to keep seven wide receivers, and that's possible if they cut back at tight end to three or go with two quarterbacks. This would allow them to keep Marvin Hall for special teams or Emanuel Hall as a developmental player rather than risk losing him by putting him on the practice squad.

The Bears kept only one undrafted rookie last year and if they did the same this year then Hall seems likely to have the best chance.

They started last season with eight offensive linemen, after waiving Hroniss Grasu. It would appear to be a number they'd retain again. It's the usual number found on most NFL teams.

Defensively the numbers could change, but five outside linebackers worked last year and it looks like the best number again. They kept five after Sam Acho went on injured reserve and Khalil Mack's temporary roster exemption expired last season.

There were six defensive linemen on last year's roster after they waived Grasu and signed Nick Williams. It's possible they'd keep six again. However, what they really need is a larger backup nose tackle as a sixth lineman and really have no one like this on the roster. So five might be a better number.

Last year the question was whether they had enough at defensive end, so they kept Williams. But rookie Bilal Nichols proved capable of developing into a big-time player and there doesn't seem a concern at the end spot with both Roy Robertson-Harris and Jonathan Bullard available to shuttle with Nichols and Akiem Hicks.

The signing of Kevin Pierre-Louis increased the chance they might retain five inside linebackers. It's a good number for special teams coverage units. However, they played all last year with just four. So it would seem Joel Igyiebuniwe must prove he's more valuable than veteran with good special teams potential.

At defensive back, they started the season with 10 and it's entirely possible they'd do it again. This would be four safeties and six cornerbacks.

Coordinator Chuck Pagano likes keeping defensive backs fresh by using most of them, too. At least this was his history in Indianapolis.

Among specialists, there's one certainty: After an offseason with many, there will only be one kicker between Eddy Pineiro and Elliott Fry, or someone who is currently on someone else's roster.