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Could Injuries Hold Down Receivers' Prices

A group of receivers coming back from season-ending injuries rates near the top of their unrestricted free agency class but could the Bears find them more affordable because of their rehabbing status?

After Davante Adams gets a ridiculous paycheck from Green Bay or elsewhere in free agency, there is an interesting group of very talented receivers for the Bears to consider.

First, the reason why the Bears would even be looking in the unrestricted market: It's assumed the new regime isn't going to be interested in keeping Allen Robinson. He underproduced, never made connection with Justin Fields and experienced a hamstring issue last year.

Robinson seems through with Chicago, anyway. Or, at least he seemed through with Matt Nagy.

Nagy and his staff are gone though, and if GM Ryan Poles really has decided it's best not to give Robinson $16 million or more, then he's probably not coming back. If Robinson finds he must take a lower amount in free agency, perhaps the Bears would be willing to go more. 

However, this is difficult to project and getting a younger receiver who might even cost a little less money could appeal to the Bears more.

Robinson aside, this group of receivers after Adams is interconnected. 

Each one of the four is coming off an injury. In some cases, the injury could make the cash for these talented receivers less or the contract shorter. There could be so-called prove-it deals involved.

This group includes: D.J. Chark, Chris Godwin, Michael Gallup and JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Any of them would fit what the Bears are looking for, but in Godwin's case the price could be on the high side.

Chris Godwin, Buccaneers

6-1, 208

The Injury: Torn ACL in December.

The Receiver: The Buccaneers could make a strong push to keep him after a couple of 1,000-yard seasons to go with catch totals of 86 and 98 receptions. He has 29 TDs and with Tom Brady gone perhaps he would want to leave Tampa.

The Cash Projection: However, projects his market value at $18.1 million a year and Pro Football Focus at $16.25 million over four years. Either way, the Bears may not be going there if they aren't willing to pay Allen Robinson. PFF says Robinson will receive $15 million a year and $16.3 million.

Michael Gallup, Cowboys

6-1, 198

The Injury: Torn ACL suffered late last season.

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The Receiver: Dallas has too many good receivers so Gallup could get away. He's capable of any receiver spot but would be better at the X-receiver or Z outside than the slot. A calf injury early last year, followed then by the ACL tear ruined his output. He has had as many as 66 catches for 1,107 yards and 6 TDsin 2019.

The Cash Projection: Spotrac says $11.8 million a year for a young, fast and talented receiver. However, PFF projects problems for him considering the late torn ACL and a $5 million one-year prove-it deal. Either one might be worthwhile for the Bears.

D.J. Chark, Jaguars

6-4, 198

The Injury: Left ankle fracture at the end of September. It might not seem as serious as an ACL tear but tell that to Kyle Long. In Chark's case, the fracture isn't said to be as bad as the one Dak Prescott had, so he could be ready for the start of camp at 100%.

The Receiver: He's flirted with being a great receiver. He had 73 for a high and 1,008 yards as a high. In 2019-20 his 126 catches for 1,714 yards with 13 TDs seemed to announce his arrival. He did all of that with a spotty quarterback situation. Gardner Minshew was the best passer he had then. A player great at going up for the pass along the sideline and an ideal type to replace Robinson, although not nearly as physically strong. Would the Bears go back to the Jacksonville well and bring in another Jaguars free agent like with Robinson?

The Cash Projection: Looks nearly unanimous at $12 million a year. PFF says three years and $36 million total. Spotrac says a deal averaging 11.9 million.

JuJu Smith-Schuster

6-1, 215

The Injury: Season-ending shoulder surgery after five games in 2021.

The Receiver: He's probably less X-receiver and more slot but the Bears don't even have one of those right now. Smith-Schuster hashad justone season over 1,000 yards, a magical 2018 with 111 catches and 1,426 yards. He has been at 831 yards or more three itmes but it's been a bit of a roller-coaster ride as he's endured the years at the end of Ben Roethlisberger's career.

The Cash Projection: He took a one-year $8 million prove-it type of deal last year and PFF sees the same thing coming. Before his $8 million low-ball contract, he had been projected at $16 million by Spotrac, which might go to show what all of these salary projections really mean.

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