If the Chicago Bears didn’t add veteran free agent receivers Kendall Wright, Markus Wheaton and Victor Cruz, I would have liked the chances of Deonte Thompson making the 2017 Bears’ roster. But now, with eleven wide outs in camp, it’ll be tough.
When pressed into action on offense last season, Thompson had a career year across the board. He played in all 16 games, making 6 starts. He had 22 receptions, 249 yards and 2 touchdowns. He only had one drop in 36 targets, but it was a memorable drop, as it would have gone for a TD.
As a kick returner, Thompson set career highs with 35 returns and 804 yards (23.0) in 2016 as well. He’ll have some competition in the return game this year too, so Thompson will really need to have a great camp to hold everyone off.
Experience: 5 years
Weight: 205 pounds
Contract and salary cap
According to Spotrac, Thompson is on a 1 year deal, worth $855,000, with $80,000 of it guaranteed. He’s carrying a cap hit of $695,000 for 2017.
Reason for improvement in 2017
If he can build off of his successful 2016, I think he has a chance to stick on an NFL roster in 2017. He’s a solid returner, he has good speed, and he was able to play outside and in the slot last year for the Bears, so he has some flexibility. He could also have a leg up on the competition because of his experience with the offense and his familiarity with wide receivers coach, Zach Azzanni, who had Thompson in college at Florida.
Reason for regression in 2017
I don’t see Thompson regressing, I just see a more crowded receiver room for him to compete with. As a returner, he’ll have competition with free agent running back Benny Cunningham, who racked up a 27.2 average on 22 returns last year for the Rams. The Bears may also try rookie running back Tarik Cohen in that role as well.
Final roster odds
Notice how I said he has a chance to stick on an NFL roster in 2017? I don’t think it will be in Chicago. If he has a good preseason, coupled with some decent tape from 2016, will give him a chance to catch on elsewhere as a 5th or 6th wide out that can return kicks.
If the Bears are saving that last WR roster spot in 2017 for a special teamer, I think it will be for Josh Bellamy.
In case you missed it, I went all in on the receiver position for the Bears in my podcast last week.