The Chicago Bears have a legitimate franchise quarterback. I just wanted to say that again, since I've never been able to do so before last week.
With the acquisition of Jay Cutler and the signing of Orlando Pace to protect him, the Bears have become the favorite in the NFC North and instant contenders for a Super Bowl appearance. One important missing piece, however, is a legitimate wide receiver (or two).
To say Devin Hester is a true No. 1 receiver would be lying, and to anoint last year's third round pick Earl Bennett as the No. 2 with zero career catches to his name is insane. The Bears receiving corps is full of No. 3 receivers at best, and needs to add at least one target for Cutler.
Prior to the Cutler trade, it appeared that the Bears were targeting Maryland's Darius Heyward-Bey or North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks with the 18th overall pick in the draft.
With those players, along with the likes of Kenny Britt and Percy Harvin, likely gone by the time the Bears pick at No. 49, let's take a look at some of the potential options for the Bears next season.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
Torry Holt—Age 32
Holt would be my first choice. He has familiarity with the coach, an old friend in Orlando Pace, who has reportedly reached out to Holt about joining the Bears, and 869 career catches for over 12,000 yards. All are positives. Plus the opportunity to play for (hopefully) a winner might be attractive for Holt.
However, the agent for Holt recently told Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times that he was doubtful Holt will visit the Bears. While this would be a great addition, I don't see much likelihood that it will happen.
I said the same thing about Cutler though, so you never know.
Plaxico Burress—Age 31
A perfect target for Cutler. 6'5", 232 pounds, and amazing hands.
I don't want any part of him. With the gun possession trial and reports of run-ins with police while driving, the distraction outweighs the talent. After the success of the offseason so far, Jerry Angelo would be foolish to even discuss bringing in the baggage that comes with Burress.
Marvin Harrison—Age 36
The first thing that should scare Bears fans is the age. In receiver years, 36 is equivalent to 100 normal years. I'm not doubting that Harrison is one of the best receivers of all time, but he has been catching passes from Peyton Manning in a dome for the past 10 years.
Cutler is a step down from Manning, and Chicago in December is the opposite of a dome.
I'd be happy to have Harrison, but I can't see the Bears matching the salary he is likely looking for in this stage of his career.
Amani Toomer—Age 34
Another receiver who is up there in years, but could be a perfect veteran leader to the young guys the Bears currently have.
With the exception of 2006 when he missed eight games, Toomer has played in 15+ games every year since 1997, and has caught an average of 65 passes per year for the past 10 seasons.
If Toomer comes cheap, the Bears should take a look.
Other potential Unrestricted Free Agents rated above 60 by Scouts Inc. include: D.J. Hackett, Reggie Williams, Joe Jurevicius, Ronald Curry, Shaun McDonald, Mike Furrey, and Justin McCareins.
All of these are solid receivers, but in my eyes are not much of an improvement from what the Bears already have on their team. I don't feel that any of these players are the answer.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
Restricted free agents are trickier, as anyone worth signing will most likely end up costing the Bears a draft pick if the original team chooses not to match the offer. Despite that, here are a few names the Bears should at least consider.
Lance Moore—New Orleans Saints—Age 25
Moore had a breakout season last year for the Saints and fantasy owners alike. Moore had 79 rec, 928 yds, 10 TDs, all of which would have led the Bears by a large margin. While it is true that this was Moore's only good year, he is just a fourth-year pro, and could easily develop into a No. 1 receiver.
The Saints are not likely to give Moore up without a fight, however, and it is very unlikely that the Bears would be willing to give up one of their two remaining early round selections to sign him.
Mark Clayton—Baltimore Ravens—Age 26
Clayton has played in every game in the past four years for the Ravens, averaging 50 catches for 659 yards over those campaigns.
Clayton is not especially big, at 5'10" and 190 pounds, but he could still develop into a solid starting wideout in the NFL. Assuming he comes cheap (late-round draft pick compensation,) he might be worth a look.
Hank Baskett—Philadelphia Eagles—Age 26
For no other reason than he would bring Kendra from the Girls Next Door along with him.
If the Bears do not end up signing any of the names listed above, the No. 49 pick should be used on a WR. A quick look at the options who may be available at that pick:
Brian Robiskie—Ohio State
Robiskie had a solid senior season, catching 42 passes for 535 yards and eight touchdowns. Graded at 76 by Scouts Inc., he would bring size—6'3", 209 pounds—to a team that needs a big receiver.
New reports are coming in saying that Robiskie may go as high as the end of the first round, so it might be a stretch to think he would be available for the Bears.
Massaquoi enjoyed being on the receiving end of passes thrown by potential No. 1 overall selection Matthew Stafford last season. As such, he was able to put up 58 receptions, 920 yds, and eight TD.
He is very similar to Robiskie, as he his graded at 75 by Scouts Inc., and stands 6'1.5" and weighs 210 pounds. As a first-team all-SEC selection, he could provide instant impact for the Bears.
Iglesias is not a vertical threat, but with Devin Hester the Bears don't need that. His numbers last year were impressive: 74 receptions, 1,150 yds, and 10 TDs.
Though, he did have Heisman Trophy-winner Sam Bradford throwing him the ball. At just over six feet, he might not be the ideal height the Bears are looking for, but would be a good addition to the corps.
Other options at pick No. 49 include: Louis Murphy (Florida,) Derrick Williams (Penn St,) Ramses Barden (Cal Poly,) and, to throw an idea out there, Pat White of West Virginia. I'm not sure I'd be thrilled with any of these guys in the second round, but anything is better than what the Bears trotted out there last season.