The Chicago Bears let their best wide receiver walk this offseason and now their stuck with the task of finding their next go to target.
Alshon Jeffery became a relatively young and hot commodity in free agency, and despite his comments about the Bears heading to the Super Bowl in the 2017 season, he decided to take a one-year, $9.5 million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.
With Jeffrey heading east, the Bears now have a lot to think about at the wide receiver position. The reaction to recently signed quarterback Mike Glennon has been rather hot and cold, and the fact that Bears fans don’t have an elite receiver to rely on can give fans that uneasy feeling.
Someone will have to step up and become the number one receiver for the Bears, but whether that’ll be a familiar face or a newly signed free agent is up for debate.
Chicago has a lot of young receivers and this offseason will be full of experimentation for head coach John Fox. Guys like Cameron Meredith and Josh Bellamy have already seen their fair share of playing time last season and it should be expected that both will continue to play a role on the field.
However, out of the two only Meredith really shined, leading the team in receiving with 888 yards on the season. At only 24 and heading into his third season, Meredith could hit his stride and find himself as Mike Glennon’s top target. Bellamy, on the other hand, might have to fight a little more for the amount of time he see’s on the field.
Veteran receiver Eddie Royal was hit with an injury filled season in 2016 and has only played nine games in the past two seasons for the Bears. Although, if Royal can stay healthy he could become a nice consistent playmaker and show those young Bears how it’s done for once.
Another big name no to forget about is former Bears first round draft pick Kevin White. The man’s first two years in the NFL haven’t come easy. He missed the entire 2015 season after having surgery on a stress fracture in his leg and then only appeared in four games in 2016 before fracturing his fibula. Some might believe Kevin White is bust, but the man has natural talent and that was on full display during his time at West Virginia. Not to mention, he has been compared to having DeAndre Hopkins like abilities and a player like that doesn’t just fall off the grid. If White can avoid injury and finally get comfortable on the field, he’ll give Bears fans something to be truly excited about.
Free Agent Signings
During this offseason the Bears have shown that they too recognize their need at the wide receiver position.
Markus Wheaton joined the Bears on a two-year contract earlier this offseason after spending four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had his best season in 2015 with 749 yards and five touchdowns, but he didn’t get a chance to top that in 2016 as his season came to a quick end after suffering a shoulder injury.
Signing Wheaton one day after losing Alshon Jeffery means the Bears are looking at him to help fill some of that void. He already has a little more experience than some of those current Bears receivers and spending time on an offense run by Ben Roethlisberger couldn’t hurt his talent level either. Expect Wheaton to become part of the core three receivers taking the field each game.
The Bears also signed former Tennessee Titans receiver Kendall Wright who has proven to be a reliable target over the years. Wright is a fast and elusive runner that could complement teammates Wheaton and White quite well. His best season came back in 2013 where he caught for over 1,000 yards. He isn’t a strong end zone target, but he can easily help the offense move the ball down the field. When it comes down to it, Wright has demonstrated he can be a strong receiver when given the chance. His past few season may have been on the decline, but a change in scenery could do Wright some good.
In the end, the Bears may have found some answers at the wide receiver position for now, but they still have yet to find their next star wideout. Neither Wright nor Wheaton really stands out as a key signing and the team could definitely benefit from keeping their eye on the market.
If you would like to receive an email each time a new Chicago Bears article is published, fill out our email notification form.