Veteran Free-Agent Contracts Bears Must Consider Before Training Camp

Joe TanseyJune 29, 2022

Veteran Free-Agent Contracts Bears Must Consider Before Training Camp

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    The Chicago Bears' offense should be viewed as incomplete as training camp draws closer.

    Justin Fields has a handful of nice offensive weapons around him, but the team could be better with one or two more free-agent additions.

    Most of the wide receiver group behind Darnell Mooney does not have experience above a No. 3 wide receiver, and the Bears are one David Montgomery injury away from being in trouble at running back.

    Quarterback and tight end are the only positions the Bears should not actively look at on offense. Fields is the clear starter under center, and they have three solid tight ends in Cole Kmet, Ryan Griffin and James O'Shaughnessy.

    Chicago may also look for offensive line depth chart, but it is committed to the players it currently has on the roster to make things work in front of the quarterback.

    If the O-line comes together, the Bears need to make sure they have enough help for Fields to win as many games as possible in Matt Eberflus' first season as head coach.

Emmanuel Sanders

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    Emmanuel Sanders makes sense for the Bears if they are willing to take a risk on an older wide receiver.

    The 35-year-old could serve as a mentor to some of the team's younger wideouts, which may be beneficial for their development in 2022 and beyond.

    Sanders is coming off a season with the Buffalo Bills in which he caught four touchdowns and produced 626 yards in a crowded offense. He is still capable of putting up good numbers and might be the No. 2 target behind Darnell Mooney if he signs in Chicago.

    The Bears need one more possession-based wideout to complement Mooney on the outside and the breakout speed of Byron Pringle.

    Chicago could ask Cole Kmet to fill that role by himself across the middle, but it never hurts to have options in the passing game. The Notre Dame product could occupy the best defender across the middle, and Sanders could be a better option if he goes across the field.

    Sanders' Super Bowl experience and mentorship could be his biggest addition to the Bears, and he could be the ideal one-year signing to bridge the gap to a more productive wide receiver room in 2023.

Adam Humphries

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    Yes, there are better wide receivers on the free-agent market than Adam Humphries.

    However, the fit with the Bears may be better than others with injury issues and high salary demands.

    The 29-year-old can be used as a possession-based wide receiver in the middle of the field. He could complement the big-play threats the Bears have in Darnell Mooney and Byron Pringle.

    Humphries caught 41 of his 62 targets last season in Washington, where he played in all 17 games. That last number is important because Chicago needs durable wide receivers to provide depth, rather than stars who come in and get hurt immediately.

    Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones and T.Y. Hilton all sound great on paper, but it may be hard to justify what they want in terms of salary because of their injury histories.

    Chicago needs someone it can rely on for 17 games to make Fields feel as comfortable as possible with the new coaching staff in place.

    Humphries played every game in three of the last five seasons. At his best, he was an 800-yard, five-touchdown player with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    The Bears could use half of that career season from 2018 to ease some pressure on the younger wide receivers, like Pringle, who are poised for the largest offensive roles of their careers.

Justin Jackson

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    The Bears could use a No. 3 running back in its stable behind David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert.

    Justin Jackson brings a skill set that the team could utilize on third-down and long-yardage situations.

    The 26-year-old caught 22 of his 25 targets in 2021 with the Los Angeles Chargers, and he recorded over eight yards per catch in each of the last two seasons.

    Jackson has never recorded over 400 rushing yards in his career because he was a depth piece behind the likes of Austin Ekeler, but he could serve a purpose on the Bears roster with his pass-catching abilities.

    The Northwestern product would likely be an inexpensive addition and could help the Bears spell Montgomery on third-down plays and give them another option alongside Herbert in the backup role.

    Jackson's potential role in Chicago may seem small, but it could be important to help advance the offense down the field and avoid settling for field goals on some drives.

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