The Chicago Bears couldn’t make any big move at wide receiver this off-season. It wasn’t a huge surprise. GM Ryan Poles inherited a team with limited salary cap space and no 1st round pick. He didn’t want to sacrifice yet more future capital trying to snag a big name on the market when the roster had so many other holes to fill. So the Bears opted for quantity over quality, adding several new faces like Byron Pringle, N’Keal Harry, Equanimeous St. Brown, and Velus Jones.
If one or two of them become solid targets for Justin Fields, that would be a considerable boon. Still, most expect the Bears to be active on the receiver market next spring. They’ll be in a far better position to do so. Poles has carefully managed their payroll to where they should have over $90 million in salary cap space—more than enough to go after the most prominent targets. Unfortunately, that possibility may have already died thanks to a series of recent extension announcements.
Seahawks’ WR DK Metcalf is signing a three-year, $72 million extension that includes $58.2 million guaranteed, per source. Deal includes $30 million signing bonus, the highest ever for a WR. Metcalf will be a free agent again at 27 years old.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 28, 2022
49ers are giving Deebo Samuel a three-year,$71.55 million extension, including $58.1 million guaranteed, per sources.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 31, 2022
The #Steelers and WR Diontae Johnson have agreed on a two-year, $36.71 million extension, source says. The sides worked last night and this morning to end his hold-in with a shorter deal than we’ve seen from others that allows him to be a free agent again after the 2024 season.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 4, 2022
Chicago Bears may need to find receiving help in the draft.
Samuel, Metcalf, and Johnson were all considered the best 2023 free agent receivers left. All are now locked in with their original teams on new deals. That leaves the pool dangerously shallow for teams seeking help at the position. A quick glance at the possible names remaining include the following:
- Mecole Hardman
- Darius Slayton
- Jakobi Meyers
- Allen Lazard
- Jarvis Landry
Not exactly an elite array of names. Unless an unexpected player gets released or lands on the trade block, it’s obvious the Chicago Bears may have to shift their receiver focus towards the 2023 draft. That isn’t necessarily bad. Early projections have five receivers looking like 1st round hopefuls. Presuming experts are correct, and the Bears aren’t very good this season, they should have a chance to land one of the best in the class.
It may not be the instant jolt fans are looking for, but it might end up being a blessing in disguise in the long term.