What Are the Bears Getting in New WR Byron Pringle?

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What Are the Bears Getting in New WR Byron Pringle?

Chicago Bears

When the new league year began, we knew the Bears needed to add *MULTIPLE* receivers.

After all, Darnell Mooney wasn’t just the only returning starter. He was the only receiver coming back with significant reps at the pro level under his belt. So while attention (obviously) went to splashier names on the free agent market, Chicago appears to have done well in bringing depth at the position. And in doing so, first-year GM Ryan Poles went to a familiar face in Byron Pringle. Poles knows Pringle from their overlapping time in Kansas City. Clearly, prioritizing depth, culture change, and the intangibles that come with value signings is a priority for this front office. With that being said, signing Pringle makes a fair amount of sense.

Pringle isn’t a household name, but the do-it-all nature of his game could make him a fan favorite as soon as training camp gets underway. We have some time before we get to that bridge, let alone cross it. In the meantime, let’s get to know one of the newest Bears.

Previous: None.

Coming soon: OL Lucas Patrick, WR Equanimeous St. Brown, DE Al-Quadin Muhammad, DT Justin Jones, LB Nicholas Morrow

Player, Age, Position

Byron Pringle, 28, wide receiver

Contract: 1 year, $4 million fully guaranteed + $2 million in incentives (Rapoport)

Measurables

6-1, 201 pounds

Performance

2021 stats

17 games with the Kansas City Chiefs

60 targets, 42 catches, 568 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns

A lack of separation is one of the many things that held Bears receivers back. And, in turn, kept the offense from flourishing under Justin Fields. I’m not sure how much catching passes from Patrick Mahomes while Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce were garnering the most attention from defenses. And I’m not sure how much of a separation stat could be attributed to the amount of zone defenses opponents play against the Chiefs. But I imagine that helped matters. Although, to be clear, I’d bet Pringle’s skill set helped him fully leverage those perks.

Career stats

46 games with the Chiefs (2019-21)

93 targets, 67 catches, 898 yards, 7 touchdowns

PFF grades: 63.9 (2019), 59.7 (2020), 65.2 (2021)

Highlights

Poles Said It

“Byron is a grinder who brings toughness and dependability. He not only improves our offense, but will also impact our special teams.” – Bears GM Ryan Poles (via the Bears)

The Fit

Using Pro Football Focus’ data, 396 of Pringle’s snaps in 2021 came with him lining up in the slot. To give that number some depth and perspective, Pringle took the field for 540 passing snaps. In other words, more than 73 percent of his snaps in the passing game came with him in the slot. Sure, there were times where he was lined up wide (306) and there was even one snap with him in the backfield. But based on recent history, it is easy to come to the conclusion that it is lining up for Pringle to get the first crack at being the Bears’ top slot option.

The Bears have been looking for someone to operate out of the slot for quite some time. Perhaps Pringle provides a stop-gap solution for the short-term.

Additionally, figure Pringle to pop some pads as a special teams contributor. Pringle was in on at least 53 percent of the team’s special teams snaps in each of his first two years in Kansas City. That number took a dive to 31 percent in 2021, which coincides with an increase in playing time at receiver. In fact, as Pringle’s offensive snaps went up over the last three years, his special teams reps went the other way. Even still … Pringle fits the mold of a receiver who moonlights as a core special teams member. And after trying to fit square pegs into round holes when it came to using Javon Wims and Riley Ridley in those roles, giving those snaps to someone who has done it before should be helpful.

The Final Word

It isn’t the splashy signing we were hoping for, but it is one that fills some needs for the Bears. And with as much heavy lifting that still needs to be done to round out this roster, signing a receiver who can line up at multiple spots in a formation and contribute on special teams is a good (and creative) use of resources.


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Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.