Eyeing Potential Bears 2022 Free Agent Targets: WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling

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Eyeing Potential Bears 2022 Free Agent Targets: WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears have a clean slate with a new general manager calling the shots and a head coach with a fresh vision. These new-look Bears are just one year removed from a second playoff appearance in three seasons but face a laundry list of needs. They’ll need to make good decisions at important positions to get back into the postseason hunt. One way to get there is with a solid run in free agency. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the more promising and available targets to see if there’s a fit for the Bears in 2022. 

Previous Free Agent Targets: Brian Allen

Potential Target, Age (in 2022), Position

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, 28, Wide Receiver

Performance and Grades

Season stats: 11 games, 26 catches (55 targets), 430 yards, 3 touchdowns

Career stats: 59 games, 123 catches (247 targets), 2,153 yards, 13 touchdowns

Pro Football Focus (2021): 66.1 overall, 71st of 115 qualified wide receivers

PFF grades (since 2018): 60.4 (2018), 57.0 (2019), 60.6 (2020)

Valdes-Scantling missed five games with a hamstring issue in 2021. But when he was on the field, he was solid in what the Packers typically ask him to do. MVS is a field-stretcher. He caught 26 passes for 430 yards and three touchdowns in the 11 games he did play. That 16.5 yards per catch is notable, especially considering he logged eight catches of 20+ yards, three catches of 40+yards, and had 18 of his 26 catches result in Green Bay first downs.

If you want to sum up his body of work over his four seasons in the league, all you have to do is think deep. In each of the last three seasons, Valdes-Scantling has at least one catch of 70+ yards. And the only season he didn’t log one (his rookie season), his longest catch was 60 yards. Over the course of his first four years in the league, 82 of his 123 catches have gone in Packers first downs. That 51 of his 123 catches have been receptions of 30+ yards suggests he has (at minimum) a niche role in any offense as a vertical field stretcher.




Existing Rumors and Bears Connections

In Adam Jahns’ recent mailbag over at The Athletic, the veteran Bears scribe listed wide receiver as the position of priority in free agency, noting that the Bears’ attention will likely zero in on the second and third tiers of free agency. An in the mailbag, Jahns name-checks MVS as a realistic target who lands on the site’s top-100 free agents.

Possible Contract Considerations

Suppose we’re following the idea that Ryan Poles will prioritize the second and third tiers of free agency for the bulk of the Bears’ spending this offseason. And let’s say that tier one, the place where I don’t foresee the Bears shopping for wide receiver help, consists of guys projected to land deals with an AAV of $10 million or more. In that case, you can forget about guys like Davante Adams (likely getting tagged anyway), Chris Godwin, Mike Williams, and Michael Gallup.

This leaves the Bears in shopping in the aisle of receivers clumped in a secondary tier. Here we expect to find the likes of Valdes-Scantling, Jamison Crowder, Russell Gage, Emmanuel Sanders, A.J. Green, T.Y. Hilton, and others. For those of you on the D.J. Chark train, I think he’s likely going to be in the tier one group (particularly if you believe PFF’s projection of a 3-year deal with an AAV of $13.3M)

As for MVS, PFF has the GB WR in line for a three-year deal worth $25 million that comes at an $8.3 million AAV.

The Fit

Valdes-Scantling could be a perfect receiver for Justin Fields. At 6-foot-4 having run a 4.37 forty-yard dash at the Combine in 2018, MVS is a big, speedy deep threat option for an accurate deep-ball thrower such as Fields. Valdes-Scantling’s 18.3-yard average depth of target ranking third-highest among wide receivers over the past two seasons. And while he spent much of the 2021 season dealing with injuries/COVID-19 issues, he led the NFL in yards per catch (20.9) in 2020 and was tied with Tyreek Hill for the most receiving touchdowns greater than 40 yards (4) that season.

MVS has plenty of big-play potential that the Bears and Fields need. And he won’t cost the Bears nearly as much as the top-tier wideouts.

Of course, Valdes-Scantling isn’t a perfect free agent option. Drops plagued MVS in his early years in Green Bay, and the catch rate (49.8%) is troubling. But hands can improve, and there are things that Valdes-Scantling does that I think outweigh those concerns if you can land him at the right price. If the Bears are looking for a reasonably priced receiver who can stretch the field in a way that fits perfectly with their young quarterback, then he should be high on their list of targets. New offensive coordinator Luke Getsy worked with Valdes-Scantling for the past three seasons in Green Bay. So there is a degree of familiarity that would make for a smooth transition if this front office brought him to Chicago.

The Bears should prioritize the offensive line to protect Fields. But they also need to add weapons, and MVS seems like a great fit.

Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.