A lot of uncertainty remains for the Chicago Bears at wide receiver. So they’ve gone about adding more options in hopes of giving Andy Dalton and Justin Fields an array of weapons. Especially with Anthony Miller on the trade block. They signed Marquise Goodwin prior to the draft, then selected Dazz Newsome in the 6th round last weekend. It appears they weren’t done just yet.
True to form, GM Ryan Pace found himself an overlooked option in the form of Damiere Byrd. The former undrafted free agent out of South Carolina spent his first three seasons as little more than part-time return man for the Carolina Panthers. However, he started to turn heads in 2019 when he had 32 catches for 359 yards in Arizona. Then last season, he topped that in New England with 47 catches for 604 yards. He’s known for his exciting mixture of speed and quickness.
Two things the Bears seem to covet more and more these days.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) May 4, 2021
This also could be another sign that Miller isn’t going to be around much longer. The Bears already drafted Dazz Newsome out of North Carolina in the 6th round. He has the skill set of a classic slot receiver. The same can be said of Byrd. This now gives the team two viable options at that spot. Unless something changes in the coming weeks, it’s growing more likely that Miller will be traded or cut.
Byrd is an interesting story. He was never overly productive in college. He had just over 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns across three years at South Carolina. Under normal circumstances, he probably wouldn’t have made a roster. Except he ran a 4.28 at his pro day. Not a huge surprise given his track and field background. This helped him find a home with the Panthers but didn’t lead to many opportunities.
Clearly the Chicago Bears have been paying attention
Byrd first emerged early in 2019 with a pair of unexpected performances for the Cardinals. After that, he kind of disappeared until towards the end of the season when he again played well. That drew the attention of New England who brought him in last year. There he essentially took over for the injured Julian Edelman. His breakout performance came in week 11 against Houston where he made six catches for 132 yards and a touchdown.
It’s also worth noting he has kick return experience too. That might be what really intrigues the Chicago Bears. In 2017, Byrd was given kick returner duties for a short period. He returned seven kicks for 229 yards and a touchdown. Good for a whopping 32.7 average. It’s a bit perplexing why the Panthers didn’t have him do that job full-time. Perhaps it’s something Matt Nagy and his staff with like to re-explore now that Cordarrelle Patterson is gone.
Just another reminder of how detailed the Bears can be.
They now have three receivers on the roster with legitimate 4.3 speed in Byrd, Goodwin, and Darnell Mooney. That should serve to help the offense find more explosive plays. Something that was a consistent problem over the past couple of years. With so much competition involved now, it’s likely special teams value could play a pivotal role in the training camp battles to come.