Everyone knows the Chicago Bears need help at wide receiver, but this graphic from Pro Football Focus puts their need in a different light:
Yards after the catch from WRs by team in 2017! pic.twitter.com/3ctuHJ5sKN
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 4, 2018
Bears receivers picked up 413 yards after the catch in 2017, which was the third fewest in the league. Only the Ravens and Bills had fewer yards. And to be totally honest, it’s amazing that the Bears picked up that much yardage to begin with.
As if you didn’t already know the Bears’ most prolific pass catcher in 2017 was rookie running back Tarik Cohen, the following should put it in perspective. Cohen had 335 yards after the catch as a rookie … and he was a running back. You have to travel well down the leaderboard before you find a Bears receiver on the list. Kendall Wright’s 199 yards after the catch were the most among the team’s wideouts.
- While we have the receiver position on our mind, this was a nice grab from Matt Clapp featuring new Bears Wide Receivers Coach Mike Furrey talking up the quarterback and receiver prospects at the Combine:
Bears WR coach Mike Furrey giving some advice to the QBs and WRs at the NFL Combine. https://t.co/7QK7ACmApA
— Matt Clapp (@DaBearNecess) March 4, 2018
- And since Calvin Ridley and Mike Furrey are on our mind, did you catch this while Ridley was tracking deep passes from top quarterback prospect Josh Rosen:
— The Ten-Yard Line (@TheTenYardLine) March 4, 2018
- The Bears could fill at least one of their receiver needs by signing Albert Wilson in free agency. Earlier in the week, Kansas City GM Brett Veach hinted at Wilson following Matt Nagy – his former offensive coordinator – to Chicago. And based on Veach’s description of the player, you can see why the Bears would be interested. “He does everything, from the slot to the outside. He can block. He can return if you need him to. He’s a very valuable commodity for us, and certainly has done a lot for us over the last few years,” Veach said, via Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times. Wilson’s knowledge of Nagy’s offense and its terminology could give him a leg up on other free agent possibilities. And since Nagy didn’t poach any position coaches from the Chiefs, it might be nice to have a coach-on-the-field type, especially one with the upside to produce come quality numbers.
- And if Andy Reid’s glowing review is any indication, you could understand why Wilson would want to follow Nagy to Chicago. “That’s one of my favorite guys, Matt Nagy,” Reid said via Bob LeGere of Pro Football Weekly. “You’re getting somebody that’s extremely intelligent, works very hard; very honest. He’s going to shoot you straight when he stands up there to tell you (something). It’s going to be the truth.” If that happens to be the case, then it will be a welcome change from the constant curveballs John Fox threw as misdirection plays during his three years in Chicago.
- Sean Payton, who worked with Bears GM Ryan Pace for 14 years in New Orleans, also has kind words to say about a long-time colleague and his future with a new coach. “When you start with strong defense, that can be the spaghetti sauce to wins and losses,” Payton told ChicagoBears.com. “And I think as they build their roster and Matt and these guys put in what their plan is going to be offensively, I think it will be a real bright future here for Chicago and hopefully they will do well.”
- While the draft and free agency are top of mind right now, I’m still curious to know how the Bears could improve the receiver position in a trade. The Raiders are a few years from taking their talents to Las Vegas, but once in a while you have to keep your eyes open for a scoop from Sin City. Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports wide receiver Michael Crabtree and running back Marshawn Lynch could be cut at some point this year. Cutting Crabtree and Lynch could clear up more than $13 million in cap savings, which would open things up for a franchise that OverThe Cap.com estimates has just $18.1 million in available cap space. Crabtree could be the kind of receiver the Bears target in an acquisition via the trade market, but only if the cost is minimal.
- Considering the Bears’ many needs throughout the roster, it’s hard to imagine the right kind of trade … isn’t it? If free agency turns out to be the way to go, especially with as much cap space as this team possesses. One possible option could be Falcons speedster Taylor Gabriel, who shared this message on Twitter:
— Taylor Gabriel (@TGdadon1) March 1, 2018
- Another receiver who appears ready to hit the market is Tavon Austin of the Los Angeles Rams. Sources tell NFL Network insider Mike Garafolo that the Rams will either trade or release Austin before the start of the new league year. Austin was the eighth overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, but never consistently lived up to that draft billing. The four-year, $42 million extension Austin signed two years ago makes it more likely he gets cut with the Rams eating some cash in the process.
- With Austin essentially having one foot out the door, it looks like the Rams will prioritize re-signing receiver Sammy Watkins. Especially considering it sounds like something reigning NFL Coach of the Year Sean McVay wants. “If we can make it work, that’s definitely something we want to do,” McVay told the Los Angeles Times. “And I think, especially offensively, the continuity that you want to try to keep.”