The Chicago Bears are going to have a new collection of wide receivers for quarterback Justin Fields to work with next season, and I can’t wait to see how general manager Ryan Poles builds up the position group. The only receiver set to return that logged significant playing time is Darnell Mooney, and while I still have my doubts on him becoming a clear cut WR1, I see him absolutely thriving in the new offense.
There’s a time and a place for the curl route in the National Football League, it’s just not on every other first down and a yard short of the sticks on every other third down. I’m being hyperbolic, but seeing what new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and his offensive staff has in store for Mooney’s 4.38 forty speed is going to be a revelation.
Mooney and Fields were fast friends a year ago, and their offseason workouts began shortly after the 2021 season ended.
In this 12-part series I’ll be listing the contract status of all the current Bears players on a position by position basis, while speculating on some offseason moves that could happen.
Darnell Mooney - Signed through 2022 - Mooney racked up 81 catches, 1,055 yards, and 4 touchdowns in last year’s 26th ranked offense, and he was clearly the top option for Chicago’s QBs all year long with 140 targets, which was tied for 11th most in the NFL. This is going to be a big offseason for him not only strengthening his connection with Fields, but also in strengthening his 176 pound frame.
Dazz Newsome - Signed through 2024 - When fans talk about the Bears’ wide outs currently under contract for the 2022 season Dazz is often overlooked. Remember since he was signed to the 53-man roster towards the end of the season he’s under contract for next season too. While the standard 4 year rookie deal went away when he was cut and signed to the practice squad, the Bears will still hold his rights for four years while he’s on the team due to the ERFA and then RFA rules.
He has some shiftiness to his game, and may be in the mix at punt returner.
Allen Robinson II - Free agent - Even with a new regime in place, I can’t see the Bears bringing A-Rob back. He likely wants a fresh start elsewhere, and he’s also going to try to maximize his value at 28 years old. He still has some productive football in front of him, but after his disappointing 2021 he may need to do a 1-year prove it contract somewhere before inking one final “big” deal.
I think he’d be a great fit for the new offense, so I would be fine if he came back, but I don’t see it happening.
Marquise Goodwin -Free agent - Goodwin was a fan favorite last offseason, be he only managed to catch 20 balls a year ago. At 31-years old I don’t see him in the Bears’ plans.
Damiere Byrd - Free agent - I thought Byrd was going to make an impact a year ago, but he never really found any consistency in the offense. He played in all 17 games but only tallied 26 receptions. Byrd just turned 29 last month, so I’d be fine with him coming back to compete for a spot.
I don’t think Matt Nagy knew how to take advantage of the speed that Byrd and Goodwin brought to the team last year.
Jakeem Grant - Free agent - Grant made his first Pro Bowl due to his sensational return skills, but he started to get more involved on the offense towards the end of last season. If the price is right I think the Bears could bring him back to return punts again.
Nsimba Webster - Reserve/Futures - Webster started last year on the Bears’ active roster, he was cut then signed the practice squad, then activated for a couple games late. He’ll be in camp to try to earn a special teams spot. He has some return ability but can cover punts and kicks too.
Isaiah Coulter - Reserve/Futures - Coutler will try to stand out in camp as a bigger wide out (6’2”, 198), but he’s going to be a long shot.
It will be interesting to see what new wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert will do with Chicago’s receivers.
2022 OUTLOOK - The Bears will definitely need to dip into free agency for a veteran or two, but they’ll also have their eye on the draft as well.
A lot of fans want to connect the dots from new O.C. Getsy to his former player Davante Adams, but there’s no way the Packers let him go to the Bears. There is one Green Bay wide out that they may allow to leave however, Marquez Valdes-Scantling. He only has 123 catches in his 4 year career, but someone is going to gamble on the potential a bigger role would present him. If Getsy believes he can help he’ll likely make that known to GM Ryan Poles.
I’m curious to see how Poles attacks the draft, especially since he only has 5 picks. I could see him moving back from his second or third rounder to pick up some extra day three selections.
But If the board falls just right for him he could get a possible blue-chipper in Purdue’s David Bell, a favorite of our Lead Draft Analyst, Jacob Infante.
Western Michigan’s Skyy Moore and South Alabama’s Jalen Tolbert are a couple high ceiling day 2 prospects the Bears could be interested in.
How do you see the Bears receiving corps shaping up in 2022?