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Little to Choose from at Receiver for Bears

Why the Bears should simply stick with what they have on their roster at receiver for now.

The Bears have fought through offensive line changes and injuries since training camp started.

The flashpoint on offense for the fan base seems to be wide receiver, however. No one really gets worked up over a blocker, even a second-round pick like Teven Jenkins, especially because he was selected by another regime.

First, it was the incorrect perceived possible trade availability of receivers DK Metcalf, Deebo Samuel and Diontae Johnson that fired up Bears social media. None of those players ever actually became available. If they were on the block, the three never would have received big contract extensions.

Johnson received a two-year extension for an average of $18.4 million, Metcalf three years and $72 million from Seattle and Samuel three years and $73.5 million from San Francisco.

Removing those three from the market could leave virtually nothing left to spend money on in free agency at this position next March for the Bears, a team that could have the most available salary cap space.

There was nothing the Bears could do about this, and lamenting a missed opportunity is fantasizing. Trying to lure a team into dealing one of those players for two or three first-round picks would have been totally stupid after the Ryan Pace years, anyway, when draft picks meant little. This team needs to build with draft picks and their receivers should come that way.

The Bears could use a receiver or two right now, though, and not necessarily one who is going to cost them a big chunk of cash or is even a long-term player.

When they practiced indoors Sunday, they had Darnell Mooney, Equanimeous St. Brown, Tajae Sharpe, Dazz Newsome, Chris Finke, David Moore, Kevin Shaa, Isaiah Coulter and Nsimba Webster chasing Justin Fields' passes.

If this was what they had to choose from for the start of the season, then it would be time to press the proverbial panic button. It's still only Aug. 8 and of those missing injured only N'Keal Harry seems to be someone who could be in certain danger of missing the opener due to his high ankle sprain.

It's a greater problem with Harry because he has had so little time to learn the offense. Other receivers have been on board throughout the offseason and they know what's been installed with the offense. When healthy, Harry could come back and if he stays up in the meeting rooms on what's been done he'd still need time to work back into playing shape. It's not easy to maintain football conditioning with a high ankle sprain.

However, the injuries to Velus Jones Jr. and Dante Pettis do not appear to be serious. At least it seems that way according to the sketchy method of revealing injury information Matt Eberflus is using. They do need Jones practicing because he is a rookie and needs to take in as much as he can about the offense and how to attack defenses, but for now this appears minor. Pettis has always dealt with injuries since coming into the league with San Francisco and hadn't been making any type of statement in practices.

Byron Pringle's quad injury is a litte more serious because those can linger for a month and he's also new to the team, though not the league and he has been working all offseason. So he could be a plug-and-play when the opener comes even if he has been out all training camp.

Taking the nine healthy receivers into the first preseason game is a rather dangerous situation. It can lead to overwork for some, although some can use this.

Tajae Sharpe has made real in-roads since being elevated in practice due to the injuries, and this could have been expected. He has had a career playing in a run-based, play-action offense in Tennessee, not totally unlike the one the Bears are going to run. He's been productive with eight career touchdown catches and 117 total receptions for 11.9 yards a catch for five years.

Sharpe might have made a push already but missed the start of camp on the non-football injury list.

"When you have a guy step up like that, that's awesome," coach Matt Eberflus said. "That's what it's all about, right? Guys go down, guys step up and Tajae did a nice job. We're excited to have him back. He's back now and he looks good in the drills, and like (reporters) said, made a couple nice plays."

Still, the numbers suggest they could benefit by bringing in one other receiver in case the situation with Harry runs on into three or four weeks of the regular season or if Pringle's quad remains an issue.

Internet rumors tied them to interest in Eagles receiver Jalen Reagor but with 64 catches in two seasons he has been a disappointment, not even to the level Anthony Miller was for the Bears.

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Here's what's available ranked in order and it's a rather sketchy group. Based on this list, the Bears would be better off just sticking with what they have, watching for waiver wire cuts or modern medicine to help their injured.

1. T.Y. Hilton

The drawbacks to someone who has been an outstanding receiver are he would be costly and will be 33 this year. He's never been a blocker and Luke Getsy requires this of receivers. Spotrac.com estimates his market value at $6.2 million and it's unlikely the Bears would be dumping money like that on an old receiver unless things got entirely desperate. Besides, Matt Eberflus knows all about Hilton after coaching in Indianapolis and if they felt he was someone they needed they would have jumped at the chance already.

2. Odell Beckham Jr.

He'd be No. 1 on the list except for a torn ACL suffered in the Super Bowl and his history of knee injuries. He wouldn't be available and healthy before Harry will. And the Spotrac.com cost of $13 million a year makes this an entirely unwise route for the Bears.

3. Emmanuel Sanders

The league seems to be over Sanders at age 35. He still contributed for Buffalo last year, though, and made as many receptions as Byron Pringle had for Kansas City and more yards. But with so many younger receivers, bringing in an old man to hog catches and slow the development of players who need reps makes little sense.

4. Dede Westbrook

Talk about people who fell overboard and were lost at sea. After 66 catches for Jacksonville in 2018-19, He's made 11 total catches following bouts with injuries. The Jaguars and Vikings got only 11 catches from him the last two years. Even when he was healthy and productive he rarely made catches longer than 12 yards.

5. Allen Hurns

Sort of took the Westbrook train and fell off the face of the earth. He was actually a Cowboys starter until Amari Cooper arrived. An opt out, broken fibula, dislocated ankle and bad wrist injury took him out of the action since 2019. He's 30 years old now.

6. Will Fuller

The perfect receiver if you're looking to create tremendous optimism, then have it dashed by six weeks on IR with a hangnail or skin tag. Spectacular speed, still just 28 and as brittle as they come, how much blocking could Getsy expect from him? A team signing him should just prepare the waived/injured paperwork right now.

7. Adam Humphries

It would depend on what a team wants from a receiver. Humphries would be a slot type who has trouble getting 10-yard catches. He's never been over 11.3 yards a catch and had 41 receptions for 383 yards last year with Washington. He might as well be a tight end with those figures.

8. Terry Godwin

Sorry, not that Godwin.

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