The Chicago Bears have done a tremendous job so far this season in regards to finding quality veterans for cheap. Tashaun Gipson and Mario Edwards Jr. have stood out as two big examples on defense. GM Ryan Pace has proven adept at this process before. It seems he isn’t done making possible moves either.
Just over a day after signing former Notre Dame star Manti Te’o to bolster the inside linebacker depth, it appears the Bears may have designs on a change at the punt returner position. Tarik Cohen going down to a torn ACL was a rough blow to the team in general. They had no idea how bad it would get at that returner spot.
Both Anthony Miller and Tedd Ginn Jr. took turns looking bad at it.
It seems the team might have designs on seeking some outside help. The latest NFL updates revealed they worked out veteran Dwayne Harris this week. A Pro Bowler in 2016, the 33-year old was probably one of the best special teams aces in the league for most of the 2010s. Not just a great return man but a quality gunner on coverage units too.
Unfortunately, last season with the Oakland Raiders ended prematurely when he suffered foot and ankle injuries. Since then he’s tried to find a new home. The Bears could be interested in making that happen. Does he have any juice left though?
#Bears list veteran WR Dwayne Harris as a tryout player. Notable because he's been a dangerous return man in his career. Maybe a possibility for punt returns or a situation where they want to update their free-agent list.
— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) October 22, 2020
Harris can help the Chicago Bears if he’s back to 100%
One can argue Harris played his best season from a punt return perspective in 2018. He had 281 yards and a touchdown despite only getting 20 opportunities to return a kick. His 14.1 yards per touch was the highest of his career. Yet his value would go beyond that. The special team experience he’d bring overall is hard to deny. Similar to what Sherrick McManis has brought for the past eight years.
Having those two along with Cordarrelle Patterson?
That could give Chicago one of the more formidable third phases in the NFL. Again, if Harris is healthy. At 33-years old there’s just no telling how much his body has left. Granted, a special teams player doesn’t have near the wear and tear that an offensive or defensive player would. This is perhaps why the Bears don’t seem too dismissive about the idea of signing him.
Given the struggles the offense has gone through, the team is wise to make their defense and special teams units as capable as possible. Both will have to compensate for the other. Harris may not end up being Devin Hester, but it’s hard to imagine him not helping. He’s been too good for too long to assume otherwise.
Chicago plays the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night. Odds are Harris wouldn’t play in that game even were he signed immediately. This is something to monitor going into next week. Another name to watch is Marqui Christian who the Bears signed to their practice squad after his brief foray with the Jets. He too could help on special teams.