GM Ryan Poles chose not to wade into the treacherous waters of wide receiver free agency this offseason. Considering some of the contracts being handed out, it is hard to fault him for that. There was some ridiculous money getting thrown around. Instead, he opted for a more bargain shopper approach, signing younger free agents with glimpses of solid play in their backgrounds but never managed to realize their potential. This led the Chicago Bears to sign veterans Dante Pettis and Tajae Sharpe.
Most of the buzz from fans centered on Pettis. A former 2nd round pick of the San Francisco 49ers, he was highly-touted coming out of Washington. At 26-years old, there are reasons to think it’s not too late for him to blossom. The Bears even hired a wide receivers coach in Tyke Tolbert that worked with him for two years in New York. So they already have a good idea of what he can contribute to this offense.
Not everybody thinks he was the better signing.
Former Bears scout Greg Gabriel thinks many people are overlooking the addition of Sharpe. Though he comes from humbler beginnings as a 5th round pick, the 27-years-old has proven a more capable receiver in the NFL. While he may not have elite speed, he plays fast on the field and couples it with a wide catch radius and good route running. Gabriel explained why this could help the offense and Justin Fields to Barroom Network.
New #Bears' WRs Dante Pettis and Tajae Sharpe evaluated by @greggabe. Clip below.
Full Episode at:
iTunes https://t.co/tZ0y8CXm9c pic.twitter.com/nwL4HO4Hjz
— Barroom Network (@BarroomNetwork) May 20, 2022
Sharpe’s career is a fascinating one. He started strong in 2016, going for 522 yards and two touchdowns. Then things seemed to level off with 645 yards and six touchdowns over the next two seasons. Much of it had to do with constant changes at offensive coordinator and inconsistency at quarterback. After leaving Tennessee, he signed with Minnesota but failed to record a catch. Then he played a minor role last season in Atlanta.
Tajae Sharpe likely faces his last big opportunity.
After flaming out with three teams already, he isn’t going to get much better of a chance to resurrect his career than he will this summer. The Bears have significant depth questions at wide receiver. It’s considered a wide open competition outside of their top three guys in Darnell Mooney, Byron Pringle, and Velus Jones Jr. Sharpe shouldn’t have difficulty making the roster if he can play even semi-competent football in August.
Once that hurdle is cleared, it will come down to whether he can earn the trust of Fields. It will be challenging to do that in such a short time. Then again, injuries happen in the NFL. All it would take is for Pringle or Jones to go down, and he’d start getting significant snaps. Tajae Sharpe won’t ever get a better chance than this. If he can’t take advantage of it, his NFL career won’t last much longer.
It is now or never for him.
That sense of urgency might be exactly what he needs. This may come down to how the Bears use him. With Mooney and Jones offering speed on the outside, it could be the perfect situation for Sharpe to do damage in the slot where he’s proven the most dangerous in the past.