Potential opening(s) at wide receiver have allowed us to take a look at options that could present themselves elsewhere this offseason. We discussed the possibility of Chiefs free agent Chris Conley as a potential post-hype sleeper type who could fit in on a one-year “prove it” contract. And in Saturday’s Bullets, we shared the idea of bringing back Joshua Bellamy for his sixth season with the team.
HOWEVER, it’s possible the right fit is someone already residing at Halas Hall.
Javon Wims caught four passes for 32 yards in the season finale against the Vikings. Two of those receptions came on third-down throws from Mitch Trubisky in the fourth quarter while the Bears were nursing a three-point lead. Not bad for a rookie receiving his first extended playing time while facing an opponent with something to play for in the regular season finale. Wims’ stat-line was not landscape-changing moment, but at minimum, it showed he could be more than just some preseason standout.
Otherwise, your memory and analysis of a player would likely be limited to this highlight reel from August 2018:
Okay. I’ll admit it. I enjoyed re-watching that way more than I should have.
The good news is that wide receiver isn’t a position of need for the Bears this offseason. That means if Wims was to receive a bigger piece of the offensive pie in Year 2, he wouldn’t be thrust into a position where he needs to be a breakout performer. The additions of Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, and Taylor Gabriel will keep the Bears from shopping at the top of the market (again) to fill whatever needs it has at the position. And yet, there are still roles that need to be filled because Bellamy and Kevin White are unrestricted free agents who might not return for 2019.
Bellamy carved out a role as a core special teams contributor, fourth receiver option, and locker-room glue guy. I suppose he could come back with a moderate pay bump after playing the 2018 season on the restricted free agent tender of $1.907 million. As for White, he seems destined to find a fresh start elsewhere. White was inactive for games late in the season and didn’t get too many opportunities in the few moments in which he was on the field. We’ll have this lengthy Hail Mary pass against the Patriots that ultimately fell short of its desired result, which is essentially a snapshot of White’s time as a member of the Bears.
Depending on what happens with those two players who were ahead of Wims on the depth chart, there figures to be a spot for competition during OTAs, training camp, and (eventually) the preseason.
Wims’ preseason performances and Week 17 catches should give him an inside track to get a bigger piece of the action in 2019. The path isn’t totally clear for Wims, who probably needs to sharpen up his special teams skills in order to earn a bigger role. But there is a map for Wims to go from the last receiver on the depth chart into something more. So while free agency could provide alternative solutions, the Bears shouldn’t rule out a player they drafted and are currently developing.