Alshon Jeffery - free agent - One way or another, Alshon Jeffery will be a Chicago Bear in 2016. Teams simply do not let game changing wide receivers walk out the door without getting something in return. The Bears will, however, need to weigh the injury issues that he had in 2015 with his overall body of work before offering him a long term contract. The franchise tag could be in play.
Jeffery didn't miss a game in 2013 or 2014, but last year he only played in 9 games. At general manager Ryan Pace's post season press conference, he talked about the situation. "When Alshon played, he was explosive and a playmaker for our offense. The previous two seasons he'd been healthy and highly productive. He was frustrated by his injuries. We were frustrated by his injuries. We've got to get a better grasp of that. Part of the evaluation of a player is his injuries and his availability. We'll take that into account."
Was last year just a fluke? Did one preseason injury really lead to all the other muscle problems he had?
Jeffery is already working hard in preparation for the upcoming season. And I'll bet some of you will be happy to know that he's not working out at ex-teammate Brandon Marshall's facility, for now at least, he's at Brian Urlacher and Jay Glazer's Unbreakable Performance Center.
Kevin White - signed through 2018 (with a 5th year option for 2019) - The Bears need Kevin White to be healthy and to make an immediate impact in 2016. Pace is looking for explosive playmakers for the 2016 season and he may have one in the talented White.
The problem that may arise is, since White didn't play a snap in 2015, no one knows how much his game has progressed since playing in West Virginia's spread offense. Sure he's practiced, but he hasn't seen NFL game speed yet. Yes he has worked on his route running, but will it translate with a press corner in his face. Will he be able to understand NFL coverages when the game is live? White will need to have his timing down so he can seamlessly slide into the #2 receiving role for the Bears.
Eddie Royal - signed through 2017 - Royal was signed to be the #3 slot guy last year, but the White and Jeffery injuries forced him into a bigger role. He also had his own injuries that he dealt with, missing a career high 7 games, which ended up limiting his own role. His entire $4.5 million salary is guaranteed for this season, so unless a young slot receiver really (and I mean really) steps up in camp, Royal will be in Chicago this season.
Marquess Wilson - signed through 2016 - Wilson had a 2nd consecutive injury plagued season in 2015, but he still set career highs across the board with 28 caches, 464 yards and a 16.6 per catch average. He doesn't add much on special teams, so if he's competing for a 4th or 5th receiver position, he may get squeezed out by a more versatile player. I liked his upside when he was drafted, but so far through 3 seasons he only has 47 receptions, 617 yards and 2 TDs in 28 games. He needs another great offseason and he has to stay healthy.
Cameron Meredith - signed through 2017 - I don't think anyone gave Meredith much of a chance to stick around for the Bears opening 53 man roster. Then to have him stick the whole season, playing in 11 games and catching 11 passes was probably more than even the Berwyn , Illinois native thought would happen. He played some 3rd phase stuff last year which will add to his chances to stick.
Marc Mariani - free agent - Mariani surprised as a receiver last year, but I'm not sure if the Bears view him as a key component moving forward. He was replaced as a kick returner, but he remained on the put return team. He had that one game with some ball security issues, but overall he was a decent and sure handed option. I actually wouldn't be surprised if another team signed him away to play in the sot after his career high 22 receptions and numerous 3rd down conversions.
Josh Bellamy - exclusive rights free agent - I think Bellamy adds some value as a special teamer, but he only has 19 catches in 4 years as a pro. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Bears move on from him. There could probably be some interest in him as a 4th or 5th WR that can be a core member of the 3rd phase from elsewhere. EDIT: The Bears tendered an offer to Bellamy.
Deonte Thompson - restricted free agent - I think Thompson proved to be a capable kickoff returner, but that's not enough to guarantee him a job in 2016. I think the Bears bring him back to compete in camp, but he'll have some competition.
Nathan Palmer - signed through 2016 - The Bears signed the 5'11", 198 pounder to a reserve/futures contract and in case you missed it, he ran a 4.34 forty at his Northern Illinois pro day in 2012. He'll be in camp and he'll have a shot to fill out the bottom of the depth chart.
2016 OUTLOOK - Everything hinges on the Alshon Jeffery decision, because if he returns the entire receiving corps falls into place.
Well... It will if they all stay healthy...
Chicago Bears Draftwatch: 2016 wide receiver prospect Josh Doctson and a look at 2015 rookie news and notes
Draftwatch takes a swing through Texas to check out one of the most productive pair of hands in college football. Those hands belong to TCU’s ridiculously talented senior sensation, Josh Doctson.
Let's assume Jeffery is returning, because that's the odds-on-favorite scenario playing out, and with him back, I can't see GM Ryan Pace taking a wide out in the first round of the draft. I know he's a BPA drafter, but the Bears are still going to be a balanced team, making a 2nd consecutive 1st round WR a luxury.
EDIT: Jeffery was tagged with the non-exclusive franchise tag
But if a high rated guy is there in the second round, it would not surprise me to see Pace pull the trigger. Playmakers are needed and if a guy like Ohio State's Braxton Miller is on the board when the Bears come up 8th overall in the 2nd, could you fault Pace for grabbing the Bears an explosive football player? (You can check out EJ Snyder's mini profile on Miller here.)
The Bears could also find a developmental burner late in the draft, because more speed is always needed. Plus you know they'll grab a few UDFA guys for camp.
I can't see the Bears going the free agent route with so many in-house options, but a few veteran minimum type guys could be added for competition. If you're looking for a free agent list of wide outs, you can click here.
What do you guys see playing on at the receiver position for the Bears this season?