Josh Bellamy doesn’t have the best reputation with Bears’ fans. I myself have been caught yelling at my television that he is a “[censored] loser” and suggesting that my cat could have caught the crucial pass that he dropped. This was especially unfair of me because my cat is exceptionally uncoordinated.
The truth is Bellamy is a speedy and talented athlete who just has difficulty holding on to a ball that hits him in the hands. This means he might be an appropriate NFL comp for my personal flag football career. More importantly, this talent has allowed him to be a solid contributor on special teams where he played over 60% of the snaps last year and 50% in 2015—numbers again not dissimilar to my own flag football special teams playing time.
Bellamy was an undrafted free agent picked up by the Chiefs in 2012, where he had minimal special teams use before bouncing between practice squads and rosters on the Chargers and Washington. He joined the Bears in 2014 and played 11 offensive snaps that year. He became a consistent presence in 2015 with over 40% of offensive snaps. Those 437 snaps however only translated to 19 receptions and 224 yards. His offensive snap count dropped to 304 in 2016.
As a receiver, Bellamy has been a serviceable replacement when the Bears were depleted with injuries, but he managed barely above a 50% reception rate. His 13.3 average yards per catch didn’t do much to make up for this reception percentage, and his overall numbers fall far short of the new additions to the Bears’ roster.
Age: 28 years old
Experience: 5 years
Weight: 211 pounds
Contract and salary cap
According to Sportrac Bellamy signed a 1 year, $775,000 contract for 2017, incurring a cap hit of $615,000.
Reason for improvement in 2017
If Bellamy continues to play offense, this will be his third year contributing on an NFL offense, a point often considered a year of break out potential for receivers. In terms of his drops, this is an elusive affliction that in same cases can be cured, although the success of treatment is impossible to predict. If Bellamy is one of the lucky ones, he has the speed and athleticism to improve to be a more capable backup.
Reason for regression in 2017
Bellamy’s first catch for the Bears was a 48 yard touchdown and one can argue he’s been regressing ever since. Often times drops are a mental issue associated with confidence, and his 2016 season has done little to improve his confidence.
Final roster odds
The Bears have added a lot of receivers to the roster this off-season. If they choose to keep six receivers as expected, Bellamy will likely have to beat out all of Rueben Randle, Deonte Thompson, Tanner Gentry, Titus Davis, and Daniel Braverman. If he does, it will be because of his value on special teams. I expect the Bears to prioritize one of the younger receivers with more upside, but I’ll still give him a fighting 15% chance to surprise me.