Justin Hardy had a ridiculous college career but in the NFL never lived up to the prodigious numbers he produced earlier.
After being cut by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2020 offseason, he'll get a chance to extend his career with the Bears. GM Ryan Pace on Tuesday added Hardy to the roster along with wide receiver Jon'Vea Johnson.
The 5-foot-10, 192-pound Hardy has had between 14 and 21 receptions in each of his five NFL seasons. He came into the league in 2015 as a fourth-round pick from East Carolina. In college, he set the NCAA record for career receptions, passing Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles with 387 total. He had 4,541 yards and 35 touchdowns in his career.
With the Falcons, Hardy played a variety of roles with the receiver core, including the slot. Anthony Miller was the starting Bears slot receiver until being traded to Houston.
It's possible Hardy could throw his hat into the ring on special teams as the Bears look for returners, especially kick returners. However, they may also want to find a punt returner because both Dazz Newsome and Tarik Cohen were expected to perform this task and both are on the physically unable to perform list.
Hardy returned 20 punts for a 7.4-yard average in 2018 for the Falcons. His kick return experience is limited, with five returns for 59 yards but between 2016-18 he was in for 36% or more of special teams plays. He didn't miss a game from 2016-2019 before being cut.
Johnson is 6-foot, 192 and a former Boston College receiver. He hasn't caught an NFL pass yet. He was with Dallas last season but didn't play, and was cut by Jacksonville last month after he'd been claimed off waivers from Dallas.
To make room on the roster for the two, the Bears waived defensive back Rojesterman Farris and wide receiver Khalil McClain.