It looked like the Chicago Bears were resigned to their situation. With just days before training camp is set to begin, they were going to give former 2nd round pick Anthony Miller one last chance to prove he deserves to be on their roster. This despite a significant regression in 2020, capped by his infamous ejection in the wild card playoff loss to New Orleans for punching a Saints defender. One he’d been warned all week leading up to the game not to engage.
People knew he was in trouble when George McCaskey himself expressed disappointment in him. When the Bears started adding several new faces to the position in March and April? Miller definitely started feeling the heat. Now rather than making his last stand in Chicago, he’s on his way to join the Houston Texans. A team that is approaching a significant rebuild and may not have their star quarterback Deshaun Watson for the upcoming season.
While not the greatest turn of events for him, it leaves the Bears to sort out their depth chart. Who will Andy Dalton and Justin Fields be throwing to in 2021? Let’s break it down.
- Allen Robinson
- Darnell Mooney
The duo that figures to be the primary playmakers in the Bears passing game is Robinson and Mooney. They were #1 and #2 in receiving last year. This despite the latter being a rookie. So excitement is pretty high about what the two will be able to do for an encore. Especially with an apparent upgrade at quarterback. Robinson is also motivated by the pursuit of a new contract in 2022. Whether it’s from the Bears or (more likely) as a free agent. If anything is certain, it’s that these two are the focus of the team’s plans for this season.
- Damiere Byrd
- Marquise Goodwin
- Dazz Newsome
The three players who benefit the most from Anthony Miller departing. It wasn’t entirely certain whether they’d make the roster with him still in the picture. Now that this is no longer the case, it’s a safe bet all three will make the cut. Goodwin is already flashing his trademark speed in practice. Byrd has forged an early connection with Fields. Newsome is one of their 6th round picks this year and brings added benefit as a return man. Barring something unexpected, all three should find their way onto the final 53 when the dust settles.
Anthony Miller exit leaves final spot in flux
That is where the challenge lay. Traditionally the Bears have carried six receivers on the final depth chart. With five spots likely sewn up already, it is going to be a mad dash to fill that last one. Here are the contenders.
- Riley Ridley
- Javon Wims
- Khalil McClain
- Chris Lacy
- Rodney Adams
- Jester Weah
- Thomas Ives
The leaders in the clubhouse have to be Ridley and Wims. Ridley is the former4th round pick from 2019 who showed some improvement last season despite limited opportunities. Wims brings less pass-catching prowess but is a better run blocker and more valuable on special teams. As for the rest? None of them stand out as much more than camp bodies as of right now. That could change if they stand out in training camp.
Current favorite: Ridley
From a logical standpoint, one would think Wims has more value given his versatility. One must not forget though that he exhibits many of the same problems Miller did. A lack of maturity led to him getting ejected for throwing a punch (at the same Saints defender) and the inability to make big catches when it mattered. This is why Ridley may be the current “favorite.” He has enough ability to be a solid emergency option. However, don’t be shocked if the Bears make a move right before the season begins as other teams make their cuts.