With NFL Free Agency just over a month away teams are starting to plan whom they will try and sign to upgrade their rosters.
The Chicago Bears' biggest need is a true No. 1 wide receiver. Lucky for the Bears there are plenty of them available to sign.
New General Manager Phil Emery will have to address many positions for this Bears team in order to upgrade a roster that lacks talent at key positions.
There have been some Mock Drafts that have the Bears taking a wide receiver with their first round pick. With so many talented wide receivers available in free agency that would be a mistake.
The Bears have big needs along the offensive and defensive lines and in the secondary. With four picks in the first three rounds of the Draft, the Bears need to focus on positions other than wide receiver. They should make a splash in free agency by targeting two play-making wide receivers.
Since trading for quarterback Jay Cutler the Bears have not given him an adequate amount of talent to work with. Cutler has been quite good given the lack of playmakers around him on the offensive side of the ball besides running back Matt Forte.
The Bears must upgrade the wide receiver position to take full advantage of Cutler’s great talents.
The list of wide receivers available includes: Marques Colston, Dwayne Bowe, Wes Welker, Vincent Jackson, Mario Manningham, Mike Wallace, DeSean Jackson, Reggie Wayne and Brandon Lloyd.
Wallace would be a huge get for the Bears, but he is a Restricted Free Agent which would mean the Bears would have to give something back to the Pittsburgh Steelers in order to sign him.
Welker, Manningham and Wayne will all likely return to their current teams by either working out a new contract or the franchise tag.
The players the Bears will likely have a great shot at signing are Vincent Jackson, Bowe and Colston.
Although each team would like to keep these players it will be difficult to do.
The New Orleans Saints have a lot of free agents and they can only use the franchise tag on one of them. Quarterback Drew Brees figures to get a huge payday from the Saints as well as guard Carl Nicks.
With so many other weapons on that offense it seems unlikely they would give Colston a big contract as well. The Bears should have a great shot at getting him as long as they move quickly as he will have multiple suitors.
Colston would provide Cutler with a consistent threat. He has caught 70 or more passes in five of his six seasons in the league and has gone over 1,000 yards in those five seasons as well. He is a downfield threat and can go over the middle and make the tough catches in traffic for first downs. He is also very reliable with the ball having fumbled only five times in his six-year career. This would be a huge upgrade for the Bears.
Jackson has had some trouble in San Diego, as he and the Chargers have not seen eye-to-eye on his contract. The Chargers have franchise tagged him before and have not been able to work out a long-term contract.
There have been questions about Jackson’s attitude on and off the field. There have been questions as to whether or not he always tries his best on the field and has been suspended by the league for multiple DUI arrests.
However, there is no doubt that Jackson is the big-play threat the Bears need badly. For his career Jackson has averaged 17.5 yards per catch. He does not need a lot of catches to make big plays.
Although he has been Philip Rivers’ favorite downfield target, the Chargers seem ready to move on from Jackson and let someone else deal with him.
Giving Jackson big money would be a risk given his history, but the Bears have to do it. Chicago has a strong locker room presence with many veteran players and would keep Jackson in line. Playing for a coach like Love Smith may also help him.
The final wide receiver the Bears should target is Kansas City’s Dwayne Bowe.
Like Colston, Bowe is a reliable target. In four of his five seasons he has caught 70 or more passes gaining over 1,000 yards in three of those seasons. He missed out on 1,000 yards in his rookie season by five yards.
Although Bowe may not be the consistent downfield threat Jackson is, he can do everything you want in a wide receiver. Him and Colston are very similar in that they can go downfield when asked to, but also can go across the middle and move the chains.
The one thing these three wide receivers have in common is they are all big. That is the one thing the Bears have lacked out of their receivers: size.
Jackson, Colston and Bowe are all well above six feet tall and weigh above 200 pounds, but they can all move.
Cutler needs big receivers around him so when he gets in trouble he can just throw it up and know the guy he is throwing to can go up and get it.
In a perfect world the Bears would sign two of the three receivers from above. Things do not always work out that way, but Emery has to at least go out and make a big play for these guys to try and improve the playmakers around Cutler.