Since being drafted by the Bears with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Kevin White has appeared in a total of five regular-season games for the team. And it appears as though the snake-bitten receiver will have yet another lost season.
During the Bears’ 23–17 season-opening loss to the Falcons, White left the game with what the team called a shoulder injury. ESPN first reported that the injury appears to be a broken collarbone, which would end White’s season. Fellow Bears receiver Cameron Meredith—who is himself out for the year with an ACL tear suffered in the preseason—posted on Twitter a message of support for his teammate.
White missed his entire rookie season with a stress fracture in his left tibia, which required surgery to insert a rod. Last season, after playing four games, he was placed on IR with a high ankle sprain and fractured fibula also in his left leg. But this season, GM Ryan Pace hoped that White—Pace’s first draft pick after he was hired in 2015—would emerge into a dynamic No. 1 receiver fit to replace Jeffery. Injuries have grounded White’s career thus far, and it appears as though he’s now suffered his third season-ending injury.
For White, he has one more year left on his fully guaranteed rookie deal, so he’ll get another season in Chicago—but, it’s highly unlikely that the team will pick up his fifth-year option, given that the deadline for that is next spring. As for the Bears offense, the unit would now be left without both White and Meredith, its top two receivers, after letting Alshon Jeffery walk in free agency. To understand the impact that will have, look no further than the final seconds of Sunday’s game, when two potential game-winning touchdown passes by QB Mike Glennon were dropped.
Relying on White to be a key contributor this season was a risky proposition given the young player’s injury woes in his first two seasons. After White’s injury, the Bears finished the game with just three available receivers: Kendall Wright, Deonte Thompson and Josh Bellamy. Markus Wheaton has been sidelined with a broken pinkie finger.
The low expectations for the Bears this season are now even lower. Which raises an interesting question: What does this mean for the quarterback situation?
It’s a little bit of a catch-22: The worse the supporting offensive cast is for the Bears, the more likely it is that the team will struggle, which means that the calls to give Mitchell Trubisky a chance will no doubt intensify. But throwing into the fire their No. 1 draft pick, without a lot of help around him, is exactly what the Bears don’t want to do.
All around the league, teams are putting in rookie QBs. DeShone Kizer is starting in Cleveland. Tom Savage lasted all of one half in Houston before being yanked in favor of Deshaun Watson. After a promising preseason in which he displayed his unique talents, Trubisky is the most popular guy in Chicago right now. Case in point: The Chicago Tribune is already asking the question, Would Mitch Trubisky have completed the Bears’ winning drive that Mike Glennon couldn’t?
Regardless of which quarterback the Bears have in the game, though, an offense without playmaking receivers will struggle. Chicago’s plan has been for Glennon to be a bridge to the guy who they believe to be their franchise quarterback of the future—when he’s ready, not when circumstances dictate giving him a try.