The Chicago Bears have only had twelve different thousand-yard receivers in the franchise's history, but they could add a thirteenth this season if all goes to plan. The Bears emphasized the passing game during OTAs and minicamps after being ranked 32nd in both passing attempts and yards a season ago.
"This offseason obviously is going to be very big for us," head coach Matt Eberflus said at the NFL owners' meetings in March. "We're going to set it up to work on the passing game, [put] a little bit more emphasis on that during this offseason and then working into training camp."
All reports indicated that quarterback Justin Fields had a solid offseason working with his new number-one receiver, and with numbers two and three healthy for training camp, he'll be able to build chemistry with the whole crew next week.
"Training camp will be big," Eberflus said via the team's site. "It'll be big for everybody. It'll be big for Mooney. It'll be big for 'Clay,' getting the timing and the rhythm down. Those guys will pick it up. Those guys are both smart. Claypool's been in the system now for a while, and he's getting in the motions and shifts and the route disciplines and all that, so we're excited about where that is."
D.J. Moore, Darnell Mooney, and Chase Claypool have the potential to be the best trio of wideouts the Bears have ever had. Moore has cracked a thousand yards three times in the last four years, Mooney went over quadruple digits in 2021, and Claypool had more than 800 receiving yards in 2020 and 2021.
Defenses were warry of Chicago's rushing attack last year, but if they come out with that mindset in 2023, the Bears intend to make them pay through the air.
"When teams line up in single-high, or they line up in single coverages, we're going to take our shots," Eberflus said vis NFL.com. "That's really been the theme all offseason. Certainly take what they give you, but we're certainly going to take shots with the matchups we like."
Moore, Mooney, and Claypool have game-changing speed and athleticism, but they aren't the only threats on the roster.
Rookie Tyler Scott (5'11", 185 pounds) has legit sprinter speed and showed a knack for the big play in college.
Last year's third-round draft pick, Velus Jones Jr., had a disappointing rookie year, but he played on 121 special teams snaps in 12 games. He should be the primary kick returner, and his familiarity in the offense and his 4.3 speed could get him a handful of schemed-up touches.
Equanimeous St. Brown seems like a lock because he's been a special teamer in the past with Green Bay, he knows the scheme and can line up at different receiver spots, and his run blocking is nice to have in a pinch.
A good bet to make it
If the Bears keep six receivers again, then the above six is all she wrote. Everyone else will need to really show out to steal a roster spot.
On the bubble
In a perfect world, Jones is the primary return specialist, but if the Bears need a punt returner, then Dante Pettis might sneak his way onto the roster. I could see Pettis back on the practice squad if he clears waivers.
Nsimba Webster is a veteran that has special teams value, but at 27 years old, it might be time to develop a younger receiver on the practice squad to fill that role.
Joe Reed and Daurice Fountain have some NFL experience but recently have been practice squadders. At 25 years old, Reed is two years younger than Fountain.
Undrafted free agents Thyrick Pitts (6'2", 200) and Aron Cruickshank (5'9", 165) are likely camp faves because there is always a UDFA wideout that flashes, but each seems destined for the practice squad.
Update: The Bears are reported to have signed Isaiah Ford after a tryout on July 24. The 27-year-old Ford was originally a seventh-round pick of the Dolphins in 2017, and he spent some of last offseason with the Colts.
How many receivers do you have sticking on the 53-man roster, and who are they?