It is no secret to even a casual fan of the National Football League that the Bears have a glaring hole: Their wide receiving corp doesn’t have any NFL-level wide receivers in it.
While this is in huge part due to the unlucky injuries to Cameron Meredith and Kevin White, the receiving corp was never a strength. Meredith is still unproven, and Kevin White seems to have a paper mache skeleton.
It is, in my assessment, unlikely that White makes the 53-man roster next year. It obviously depends on who is in camp with the team next year, but his injury history likely prevents him from having a spot next year.
The only other receiver even on the fence, in my opinion, is Dontrelle Inman. While he is a free agent after this season, Ryan Pace likely wouldn’t have dealt a draft pick for him if he thinks Inman would leave after the season.
That leaves at minimum two roster spots, assuming that Tanner Gentry and Tre McBride are not on the roster next year,
Looking towards free agency, this class is likely going to be one of the most stacked classes in a long time. Headlined by familiar face Alshon Jeffery, the 2018 free agency class boasts Dolphins’ Jarvis Landry, Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald, and Jaguars’ Allen Robinson.
Before this rumor starts running wild in February, I’m going to put it to rest right now: Alshon Jeffrey is not signing with the Bears. That bridge is long past burned. I don’t have the foresight to see where he is going to be, but it will not be Chicago.
The other names, however, are all realistic. Jarvis Landry recently set the record for most catches in a receiver’s first four seasons in the league, and he did so with eight weeks to go. Allen Robinson, while not putting up numbers due to the fact that Blake Bortles is his quarterback, has emerged as a legit #1. Even guys in the second tier, like Donte Moncrief, Davante Adams, and Sammy Watkins, would all be elite #3 wide receivers.
One name that has caught my eye, in particular, is the Seahawks’ Paul Richardson. After making the greatest catch I have ever seen last year in the playoffs, he’s gone out and made a name for himself as Russell Wilson’s #2 target.
It’s entirely possible that any team can completely rebuild their receiving corp into a formidable group given the means to do so in free agency, which the Bears will. The Bears are already $12 million underneath the cap, and they have an extra $13 million coming in once they cut Mike Glennon this offseason.
There are also a few wide receivers in the draft who are well-renowned by draft experts. Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, Notre Dame’s Equinimious St. Brown, Florida State’s Arden Tate, and Indiana’s Simmie Cobbs have all gotten grades around the second round, and many think all can be instant contributors in an NFL offense.
With their second-round pick, I think it’s highly likely that one of them gets taken by the Bears. None of them are going to be taken over an EDGE or one of the great offensive tackles in the first, but I could totally see a second-rounder being used on one of them.
Therefore, there is a distinct possibility that no wide receiver on the current 53 is on the roster next season. If I had to bet on it, I would bet that only Inman is, and even that’s not a guarantee.
So don’t get too emotionally attached to Tre McBride and Tanner Gentry, they will be gone soon. They are more Dane Sanzenbacher than Alshon Jeffery. Don’t get emotionally attached to anyone on that receiving corp, because, for better or worse, we may see a whole new one next season/