A new era of Bears football begins in 2018 with Matt Nagy leading the way as the 16th head coach in franchise history. But for Nagy to succeed, he’ll need an injection of talent at various positions across the field – free agency is one such avenue for that improvement.
So let’s take a look at some of the more promising available players, to see if there might be a fit with the Chicago Bears.
Player, Age (in 2018), Position
Jarvis Landry, 26, wide receiver
Season stats: 16 starts (929 snaps, 89.6% of total offensive plays), 112 catches (led the NFL), 987 yards, 8.8 yards per catch, 9 touchdowns
Pro Football Focus grades: 82.0 overall, 19th among qualifying receivers
Landry’s walk season was a bit of a mixed bag. He led the league in receptions, but failed to gain 1,000 receiving yards after back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons. His yards per reception numbers dipped too, as he gained 8.8 yards per catch in 2017. That number was 10.6 in his previous three years.
Jay Cutler sure enjoyed targeting Landry, completing 72.2 percent of his passes attempts, posting an impressive 98.1 passer rating, throwing eight touchdowns (and three interceptions).
Landry also spent much of the season engaging in public contract negotiations as he was seeking a long-term extension with Miami. Those tactics ultimately failed as the Dolphins placed the franchise tag on him as soon as they possibly could.
Performance Before 2017
Stats: 48 games (41 starts), 288 catches, 3,051 yards, 10.6 yards per catch, 13 touchdowns.
Per 16-game average: 96 catches, 1,017 yards, four touchdowns
Pro Football Focus grades: 85.7 (2016), 87.7 (2015), 80.9 (2014)
Landry has been a consistently productive presence in the Dolphins offense, performing as an above average receiver or better in each of his four seasons in Miami. He has grown into one of the NFL’s best slot receivers, evidenced by two 100+ catch seasons, a pair of 1,100-yard campaigns, and three Pro Bowl appearances.
In The End …
As a top slot receiver, Landry’s addition to the lineup – specifically in the slot – could help improve Mitch Trubisky’s accuracy and production on intermediate throws. Not only could Landry improve the Bears with his ability to work underneath and the middle of the field, but also when it comes to moving the chains.
Despite checking in at 5-11 and 208 pounds, Landry is also a productive red zone target. Quarterbacks have posted a 124.1 passer rating when targeting Landry in the red zone, which is the second best among receivers with 25 red zone targets in the last two seasons. The combination of slot efficiency and red zone proficiency is why Landry is believed to be a top offseason target despite receiving the franchise tag from the Dolphins.
Landry is a polarizing receiver, but checks some pretty important boxes for the Chicago, should GM Ryan Pace choose to pursue a trade with the Dolphins. Signing the franchise tag offer will officially set the ball in motion for a possible trade. And seeing that the Dolphins need to unload him as they drive to get under the salary cap, the Bears are in a position to sit back and wait for their best offer.
The Bears emerged as a potential landing spot for Landry after the Dolphins gave him permission to facilitate a trade, but don’t expect that wild Landry-for-Howard deal to return to our radars. At this point, all we know is that Landry Watch will certainly have its some more twists and turns before we come to a conclusion. And if the price is right when it comes trade compensation, Chicago could add an impact receiver to kick off their offseason.