On Friday night, the Chicago Bears added to their wide receiver depth by signing former San Francisco 49er receiver Marquise Goodwin. The Bears signed Goodwin to a one-year deal after he declined to play with the Philadelphia Eagles last season due to COVID-19 concerns. With the speedy wide receiver joining the Bears, the acquisition now factors into the remainder of the team’s offseason and their game plan for the 2021 season.



Goodwin’s Presence Has A Significant On The Bears’ Draft Plans and Roster

With less than two weeks to go before the 2021 NFL Draft, the Goodwin signing shows what position the Bears may be targeting. Many analysts and experts have hinted that the Bears would consider drafting a wide receiver in the first round as there is a need at the position. There is a significant amount of talent at the receiver position in this year’s draft. Five to six receivers are projected to go within the first round, while more are expected to fall to both the second and third round.

For the Bears, one focus of general manager Ryan Pace this offseason has been to revamp the receiver position. It still appears likely Pace will draft a receiver with one of Chicago’s top three selections, but it may shift what type of receiver he may look for. Goodwin’s best asset as a receiver is his ability to make big plays with his speed. He has averaged over 17 yards per reception in two of his last three seasons with the 49ers, despite battling injuries. With both Godwin and second-year receiver Darnell Mooney as deep-threats, Pace could focus on a possession receiver with size as Allen Robinson is currently the only proven receiver taller than six feet on the roster.

The signing also signals that changes at the position may be imminent. Receivers Anthony Miller and Javon Wims time with the team appears to be drawing to a close after both were ejected from games last season due to fighting. Pace has been looking to trade both players before likely releasing them. Miller, despite maturity concerns, is coveted around the league as many still believe he has the talent to be a top slot receiver. The Bears could get a draft selection back in return to where they might not be able to find a trade partner for Wims.

Goodwin now provides the team with much-needed veteran depth and another deep threat for quarterback Andy Dalton. The Bears receivers heading into 2021 should be Robinson, Mooney, Riley Ridley, a draft selection, and the newly signed free agent. Godwin and a potential draft selection could compete for the team’s third receiver role.

The Offensive Game Plan With Goodwin Becomes More Clear Also

The addition of Goodwin also shows what head coach Matt Nagy and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor have planned on offense in 2021. Unless the Bears draft a top-tier receiver early in the draft, it is likely that Robinson and Mooney are the starting wide receivers at the beginning of the season. Goodwin could serve as Chicago’s slot receiver and primary deep threat depending on who the team drafts at the position in a few weeks.

Nagy and his staff could maximize Goodwin’s abilities in the same way that they maximized tight end Jimmy Graham last season. When the Bears signed Graham last year, many criticized the move, feeling that the tight end was way past his prime and would be ineffective. The former All-Pro tight end proved critics wrong as he led the team with nine touchdown receptions and was a vital target within the red zone. Graham was successful because the coaching staff utilized him mostly in red-zone situations and allowed him to use his size to win one-on-one throws.

With Goodwin, the Bears offensive staff could be looking to do the same as the team could deploy the receiver similarly to how they used Taylor Gabriel a few years ago. When the Bears signed Gabriel in 2018, they envisioned him as their slot receiver and used him significantly as a deep threat. The receiver had six receptions of 30 yards or longer on fly patterns in 2018. Due to Gabriel’s battle with concussions in 2019, the Bears lack the big-play receiver, later replaced by Mooney last season. Goodwin now allows the second-year receiver to become more of a mid-level possession receiver, where the former 49er can serve as a legit deep threat for the Bears.

Although the move is a small one, it has several different impacts on the Bears for the remainder of the 2021 season. Goodwin’s deal most likely means that the team will use their first selection on either a quarterback, offensive tackle, or cornerback in a few weeks. It also gives them a deep threat they have needed for quite some time while freeing up Mooney for an expanded role. Goodwin, if healthy, could make a significant impact on the Bears’ offense in 2021.

 

Steve Pusch
Eastern Illinois University graduate, Steve earned a Bachelor’s in Journalism with a concentration in sports. While at EIU, Steve co-hosted a weekly radio sports talk show focused on Chicago.