While some expected the Bears to land a free agent big fish after restructuring Khalil Mack’s earlier this week, general manager Ryan Pace has instead worked toward filling in depth and smaller roster holes. The latest comes in the form of former Falcons receiver and special teams standout Marvin Hall, who agreed to a one-year deal with Chicago Friday, according to the Bears.
Hall, 25, spent the first two years of his professional career in Atlanta featuring as a fourth and fifth receiver in the Falcons’ offense. He was superstar Julio Jones’ main backup at the X-receiver spot. Though, with a career 12 receptions, 209 receiving yards and two touchdowns, you’d be hard-pressed to say Hall’s someone with much of any relevant experience on offense. He stepped in for emergency purposes and filled in admirably when asked. The gist is that Hall’s more serviceable than wholly reliable: Something to be expected for a receiver at the bottom of a depth chart.
Where Hall should make most of his impact in Chicago is on special teams. A solid gunner and backup returner in Atlanta’s scheme, Hall could reasonably be seen as Josh Bellamy’s replacement — who signed with the Jets earlier this week. The Bears had one of the NFL’s worst special teams units last season as they ranked 26th overall in Football Outsiders’ DVOA. A bit of necessary change, even a wholesale overhaul, isn’t the craziest development to consider. When your third phase is as much of a non-factor as it was for the Bears’ last year, anything is possible. Pace and company can’t afford to let one unit drag them down as much as their special teams did in the pursuit of a championship.
It remains to be seen whether Hall will be unnecessarily piled on and criticized if pressed in on offense as a fourth or fifth receiver, but never give up hope. Scapegoats are a dime a dozen.
Be it on offense or special teams, Hall fits the bill of increasing speed and athleticism across the board for the Bears. As a guy who once ran a 4.28 40-yard dash at his Washington Pro Day two years ago, Hall is a quintessential blazer. Make no mistake: Guys with speed find their way on to the field more often than not. It’s rare you’ll lose with speed at any level. With Hall in particular, think Taylor Gabriel-lite as a solid comparison.
Matt Nagy is loading up his arsenal of weapons to play around with, as is special teams coordinator Chris Tabor. Hall is yet another puzzle piece in a Chicago grand design, albeit a smaller one.
Robert is the Editor-in-chief of The Blitz Network (subscribe here!), the managing editor of Windy City Gridiron, and writes for a host of other fine publications. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.