We already knew wide receiver would be a priority for the Bears this offseason.
After all, the only returning starter is Darnell Mooney. And the only other receiver under contract for 2022, Dazz Newsome, played a grand total of 66 receiving snaps this past season. Not only do the Bears need bodies, they need good ones. And I think the Bears are about to go shopping for something special:
#Bears GM Ryan Poles said they looked at historical cases of how to help a QB after his rookie year. The takeaway: find him a receiver who can bail him out when he needs it.
— Patrick Finley (@patrickfinley) March 1, 2022
New Bears GM Ryan Poles just wrapped up a media session at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. And while we’ll sort through what he said during his availability, the anecdote in Patrick Finley’s tweet above stood out from the others.
Again, we knew the Bears would be in the market for receiver help. But the specifics offered up from Poles piques my interest. Finding a receiver who can bail out a quarterback fits an oddly specific number of pass-catchers.
The free agent market is full of receiver options. Chris Godwin is an ace receiver, but is coming off a season-ending ACL injury. Michael Gallup has the potential to be an upper echelon pass-catcher, but is coming off a season-ending injury of his own. Mike Williams had a breakout season with the Chargers who is superb in the red zone and when getting targets deep downfield.
Could Poles address this need in a trade? As Patrick pointed out in a recent look around the league, Calvin Ridley’s situation with the Falcons isn’t settled. A trade away from Atlanta could plausibly be in the works. For what it’s worth Ridley was fond of the idea of Chicago choosing him in the 2018 NFL Draft. I can only speak for myself, but I’d say the feeling was mutual on my end.
What about the upcoming NFL Draft? Poles will have eyes on a bunch of receiver prospects this week at the Combine. Perhaps, someone (David Bell?) will go to the top of his draft-weekend wish list.
And, of course, the Cowboys could be a wild-card in all of this:
#Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones spoke to reporters on Monday and was asked about Amari Cooper's future with the team: "It's too early for me to address that."
Cooper has a large $22M cap hit next season and the #Cowboys would save $16M in cap space if they were to move on.
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) March 1, 2022
If the #Cowboys prioritize re-signing Michael Gallup, and let Amari Cooper hit the market, then that guy would shoot to the top of my free agent WR rankings.
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) March 1, 2022
The receivers who can ball out and bail out their quarterbacks are few and far between. However, we know first-hand how valuable those guys can be. After all, we saw what Allen Robinson II was capable of when he was Mitchell Trubisky’s top target in 2018, 2019, and 2020. Robinson wasn’t that guy for Justin Fields as a rookie. Nevertheless, that is the type of receiver production I imagine Poles wants to add. Maybe he wants that player to be a tick-up on another level from that — and hey, who wouldn’t? But after listening to how Poles was responding to questions about giving Robinson a second Franchise Tag, I’d venture to guess Robinson won’t get a chance to be that guy in Chicago.
Then again, it’s not like there aren’t options if the Bears want to land a bigger fish.
So, while Poles didn’t necessarily tip his hand in Tuesday’s press conference, I’d argue that he gave us a first clue as to what the Bears will be looking to add this offseason. Buckle up, friends. This will be a trip.