Free Agency vs. Draft: Wide Receiver

There is little doubt these days as to what is the Bears biggest need or priority this offseason is. There is pretty much no end to the Bears' options to resolve the deficiency of talent at that particular position; there are a lot of free agent options, some very good receiving prospects in the draft and possibly even some trades out there that could be made endlessly speculated about. However, there are some drawbacks to each one, especially when considering how hard the receiver position is to evaluate. Allow me to explain.

It's pretty easy to explain the concerns when it comes to drafting wide receivers. For "exhibit A" I just need to remind Bears fans of David Terrell. There is no shortage of examples of first-round draft busts at the receiver position; Charles Rogers, Rashaun Woods, Craig Davis, Troy Williamson, Reggie Williams. Plus debatable almost-busts like Michael Crabtree and Darius Heyward-Bey.

Then there are the head case guys who, while talented haven't been able to stay with one team; Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Roy Williams, Ted Ginn Jr. I could go on, but basically the receiver position is a wasteland of busts, divas and head cases when it comes to drafting.

So then? Free agency must be the answer, it should be easy to look at a dude's body of work and his work dynamic and figure out, hey this would be a good guy to sign.

Uh. Guess again.

Look at last year, Sidney Rice was the most sought-after free agent receiver. He played in only nine games and caught 32 passes. Sure he was injured but that was a concern going in, so far then, the $18 million guaranteed isn't looking so good.

Braylon Edwards, who signed with the 49ers, due to injuries also, but then poor play, was a non-factor in their season that culminated in the NFC Championship game, or Mike Sims-Walker who did squat with the Rams.

The point I am trying to make is that very few free agent receivers, at least the highly sought after big-dollar ones end up making an impact with their new team.

Remember when Bears fans swooned over the thought of T.J. Houshmandzeh in Chicago? He signed with Seattle instead and was unceremoniously cut one season later and has bounced around between the Ravens and Raiders.

Also, lest we forget Mushin Muhammad. I was so excited when the Bears landed him, but what did we get? 64, 60 and 40 receptions, 750, 863 and 570 yards and "where receivers go to die."

It's hard either way but there are just as many bad free agent receiver signings as draft busts over the last decade or so. Of course, that's easy to say, but the Bears need to really do their homework in free agency if that's the route they decide to go.

There have been a lot of free agent receivers who did work, such as Plaxico Burress with the Giants or Terrell Owens with the Eagles.

So pick your poison, there is a lot of risk with either one, just as with a lot of things in the NFL. Personally, I hope the Bears don't put all their eggs in one basket and instead sign a free agent and then draft a receiver. There are plenty of draft picks who have worked out, as there are free agents but I don't think there are many who would say that receiver is one of the easiest positions to get right in both free agency and in the draft.

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