Almost every starter on every position on the Bears is up for debate, even at running back, where it's not a question of the starter, but more a question of depth. But the Bears one undeniable, consensual need would be at wide receiver. The Bears receiving corps was the Achilles heel of 2008, much like how the offensive line and running game were in 2007 (much like how our quarterbacking has been since the forward pass was invented).
So ensues the dilemma. Lloyd will most likely be shown the Halas Hall exit this offseason, and it wouldn't be a shock if Booker followed him out. Davis will be used almost exclusively on special teams, Hester's role will most likely (or hopefully, for that matter) decrease, and Jerry Angelo and Co. will begin the hunt for their new number one wideout. The question remains, can they find one this season? Even if they do, can he become the focus of the offense?
Even the premiere catchers in the league can hit a slump. It can last one quarter, one game, or even an entire season. For example, the top six receivers who led the league in dropped catches for the 2008 season (in order): Braylon Edwards (16), Dwayne Bowe (13), Brandon Marshall (12), Terrell Owens (10), Calvin Johnson and Roddy White (9 apiece). The effort Larry Fitzgerald put together this year has left us, dare I say, punch-drunk. Plain and simple; having a clear-cut #1 does not translate into victories (see Lions 2008) or scoring a plethora of points (see Browns 2008).
You can't put all your eggs in one basket. A consistent offense will most always start up front. A good quarterback will never stare down his intended target. A good receiver will hold on to the football. A good coordinator will call plays that will keep the defense honest (and not the fullback dive). All of these things are essential for the Bears to do what they are built to do; punch teams in the mouth by running the ball. An offense can't do that when they are constantly facing eight-man fronts.
I forgot about the list. Well, enough ranting. Here it is.
The best wideout on the market this offseason is T.J. Houshmandzadeh. There's also the rumblings that the Cards might shop Anquan Boldin, the same with the Rams and Torry Holt, and the Cowboys releasing Terrell Owens. There are however, other guys that will be on the market that may not be number one guys but are still better than what we have.
There are teams out there that have kept their silence, but willing nevertheless to give up their receivers for the right deal.
Here's how we'll break it down. Free agents first, trades second. I'll spare everyone the usual suspects and I'm not getting into draft prospects until after the combine.
Bryant Johnson- 6'3" (6th year), San Francisco 49ers
Remember last year when Bryant Johnson was on the free agent market? Remember how Bear forums were flooded with pleas for the Bears to pursue him? Remember how depressing it was to find out he signed with the 49ers? Well, it's a new year and the Bears have a second chance. Bryant once again will be on the market for the second straight year. Like Jenkins, Johnson was also a first rounder who never got a legit opportunity. In 2003, fellow rookie Anquan Boldin was the go-to guy, Freddie Jones was the Y option, which dropped Johnson into the slot role. Then the Cards drafted you-know-who in 2004. Johnson may not be a number one, but he can make up the absence of Bernard Berrian. He's a got speed and he's as big as a tight end, a nice target for Orton and an even better compliment for Hester.
Darrell Jackson- 5'11" (9th year), Denver Broncos
Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, Brandon Stokley, and Daniel Graham; the primary reasons why Darrell Jackson caught only 12 balls in 2008. In Seattle, Jackson had three 1,000 yard seasons and averaged 65 catches a season. However, he's had the a case of the RD's as of late (RD stands for ridiculous drops, and ironically, they're also Rashied Davis' initials). At this point, he can be a temporary option at starter while the Bears mold a rookie for that spot.
Malcom Floyd - Good hands, and frickin' tall.
Amani Toomer - Age is a factor, but dependable and plays through injuries
Reggie Williams - Caught a career-high ten TD's in 2007. Great size.
Laveranues Coles- 5'11" (9th year), New York Jets
Coles is obviously not a happy man in the Big Apple. Last offseason, he griped about his contract situation, and then came the revelation of him not wanting to play with Brett Favre. LC has been labeled as a selfish, "give me the ball first" type of player, but he's also known as a humble locker room leader. No doubt if he's the former of the two, he'll be a happy man in Chicago, especially if Favre returns. A round two or even three pick should be enough to get him considering the Jets won't lose any sleep with Jerricho Cotchery and Chansi Stuckey still on board.
Hines Ward-6'0" (11th year), Pittsburgh Steelers
This may seem like a very slim possibility, but in retrospect, this trade is more likely for several different reasons. Hines has been banged up as of late, most notably the knee injury he sustained in the AFC championship game against the Ravens. Now a report says he's considering offseason surgery. If he goes through with it, it will be his second straight offseason surgery.
After winning the Super Bowl, it's most likely when Tomlin cleans house, he'll be considering cutting ties with Ward, who will be entering the final year of his contract. Chances are it was on his mind last year when he drafted Limas Sweed. Even at 32, adding Hines Ward to the Bears roster could spark a fire on this offense given his reputation. It would also reunite him with current WR coach Darryl Drake, who possibly could become the Bears offensive coordinator.
Greg Jennings or Donald Driver- Green Bay Packers
If Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy feel that their defense is undermanned for Dom Capers 3-4 scheme, they might shop Jennings or Driver to free up cap room to make a major offseason acquisition. Driver would make the most sense, given his age. The Pack has too much depth at this position for it to really hurt their offense. Both are legit number ones.
Braylon Edwards, Cleveland Browns- Does Eric Mangini have to trade a dude? Maybe so. Edwards has been dropping as many hints that he wants out of Cleveland, as much as the amount of passes he dropped in the regular season, which was sixteen. Then again, that was the amount of touchdowns he caught in 2007.
Mark Bradley Kansas City Chiefs- BRING BACK BRADLEY, BRING BACK BRADLEY,BRING BACK BRADLEY!!! (I'm being serious)
Convert Greg Olsen and Matt Forte Into Wideout
Grab Terry Glenn out of the rehab clinic.
Two Words: Usain Bolt