Danny Trevathan's season is officially over after the Bears sent the veteran inside linebacker to injured reserve Wednesday with the dislocated left elbow he suffered in Week 10. Cornerback Michael Joseph, a 2018 undrafted free agent out of Dubuque, was promoted to the active roster, with WR Alex Wesley taking Joseph's vacated practice-squad spot.
The question now: Will someone take Trevathan's starting "Mike" ILB spot opposite Roquan Smith in 2020, with the soon-to-be 30-year-old defensive leader an impending free agent? One of the brighter spots for the Bears defense this season has been the play of Trevathan's replacement, Nick Kwiatkoski, who's also set for free agency but is four years younger, with a shorter injury history.
Of course, the light had also shone brightly on the consistent production of the Pro Bowl alternate Trevathan.
Prior to his latest injury, he was enjoying his best year-and-a-half stretch in the NFL since signing the four-year, $28 million contract with Chicago on the heels of his Super Bowl 50 triumph with the Denver Broncos. In addition to his trademark speed and physicality, Trevathan's intangibles — including his work ethic, experience and leadership — have been tremendous assets to the Bears whenever he's been on the field, especially bringing along 2018 first-round pick Roquan Smith while starting all 17 games following the then-rookie's lengthy summer holdout.
But Trevathan had also missed a combined 11 games because of a torn patella tendon, calf issue and suspension in his first three years with the Bears. Add in the immense improvements of Kwiatkoski, as well as Kevin Pierre-Louis acquitting himself in extended action over the past two weeks with Smith hurt, and the Bears 'D' has managed to remain formidable despite huge voids to fill in the middle.
That certainly includes Akiem Hicks, who returned valiantly Sunday at Lambeau from the minimum eight-week IR stint with an eerily similar injury as Trevathan's. However, after the Bears were eliminated from playoff contention by the Packers, Hicks is among several other injured starters expected to be shut down in the final two games. He's also proven to be largely irreplaceable and is a lock to return in 2020.
But with Smith entering Year 3 of his first-round rookie contract and eligible to be re-signed as early as next offseason, and other, more pressing needs popping up on offense during this disappointing season, the Bears must be shrewd in the process of finding him the most logical running mate.