After signing Kendall Wright, Markus Wheaton, Victor Cruz, and Rueben Randle (among others) in an attempt to find help at wide receiver, the Chicago Bears ultimately traveled the trade route to find their newest pass-catching option.
The Bears and Los Angeles Chargers hooked up on a trade sending wide receiver Dontrelle Inman to Chicago in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2018. Inman’s journey to Chicago took him from the University of Virginia and through the Canadian Football League before settling in San Diego where he became a favorite target of quarterback Philip Rivers.
From the Bears perspective, the deal is a balanced one that satisfies a short-term need without sacrificing long-term assets. I would come short of calling it a “win now” trade, but it’s still a trade that suggests this front office believes the Bears are more competitive than their 3-4 record might otherwise suggest.
Player, Age (in 2017), Position
Dontrelle Javaar Inman, 28, wide receiver
Acquisition Cost and Contract Status
The Bears sent a conditional seventh-round pick to the Chargers and are responsible for what’s left on the one-year tender offer Inman signed (that is reportedly worth $2.746 million) in the offseason. Inman is an unrestricted free agent after the season.
- Season stats: 4 games (0 starts), 2 catches (4 targets), 9 yards, 0 touchdowns
- Pro Football Focus Grade: 57.0, does not qualify on PFF leaderboard
- Season stats: 16 games (16 starts), 58 catches (97 targets), 810 yards, 4 touchdowns
- Pro Football Focus Grade: 79.3
- Career stats: 41 games (23 starts), 107 catches (181 targets), 1,463 yards, 7 touchdowns
- PFF grades: 75.9 (2014), 44.6 (2015)
Inman spent two years with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League before joining the San Diego Chargers in 2014, a season in which he played just seven games. Business picked up for Inman a year later though, when he appeared in 14 games (making seven starts) and caught 35 passes for 486 yards and three touchdowns. It was a respectable showing for the 26-year-old making the transition into life in the NFL.
The breakout occurred in 2016 as Inman emerged as a dependable receiver for Philip Rivers, who had a respectable 83.3 passer rating when targeting Inman. By the end of the season, Inman finished second on his team in targets (97), catches (58), yards (810), and tied for third in touchdown receptions (4). Only Travis Benjamin had a better run with Rivers, who posted a 97.5 passer rating when throwing to Benjamin last season.
Where Inman Fits
The Bears have two starting receivers (Cameron Meredith, Kevin White) on injured reserve, while a third (Markus Wheaton) has missed four of the team’s seven games with a variety of injuries. Chicago’s wide receivers corps is short-handed and largely inexperienced, with the group combining to receive just 42.6 percent of receiving targets. Clearly, the Bears need help and Inman arrives as the latest player to hopefully lend a helping hand.
Inman has starting experience that is invaluable to a team loaded with inexperience. In 2016, he played 90 percent of the Charger’s offensive snaps, which led all the team’s receivers. As a point of comparison, Kendall Wright has played the most snaps among Bears receivers this season, but has been in on just 52.4 percent of the team’s offensive plays.
Injuries and the return of a healthy Keenan Allen to the depth chart have curtailed Inman’s production and accelerated his fall down the depth chart. Hopefully, the change of scenery will be beneficial for Inman and his new team.