Possible cheaper free agent receivers for Chicago Bears
After Davante Adams received a ridiculous salary from Green Bay or elsewhere in free agency, there is an interesting group of very talented receivers for the Bears to consider.
First, the reason the Bears would even search the unrestricted market: presumably the new regime won’t be interested in keeping Allen Robinson. He under-produced, never bonded with Justin Fields and had a hamstring issue last year.
Robinson seems to be done with Chicago, anyway. Or, at least, he seemed to be done with Matt Nagy.
Nagy and his team are gone, and if general manager Ryan Poles has really decided it’s best not to give Robinson $16 million or more, then he’s probably not coming back. If Robinson finds he has to take a lower amount in free agency, maybe the Bears would be willing to do more.
However, that’s hard to project and getting a younger receiver who might even cost a little less might appeal to the Bears more.
Aside from Robinson, this group of receivers after Adams is interconnected.
Each of the four comes out of injury. In some cases, the injury could cut into these talented receivers’ money or shorten the contract. There could be so-called evidence agreements involved.
This group includes: DJ Chark, Chris Godwin, Michael Gallup and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Any of them would be what the Bears are looking for, but in Godwin’s case, the price could be high.
Chris Godwin, Buccaneers
The injury: ACL tear in December.
The receiver: The Buccaneers could make a big push to keep him after a few 1,000-yard seasons with catch totals of 86 and 98 receptions. He has 29 touchdowns and with Tom Brady gone, he might want to leave Tampa.
The cash projection: However, Spotrac.com projects its market value at $18.1 million per year and Pro Football Focus at $16.25 million over four years. Either way, the Bears might not go there if they’re not willing to pay Allen Robinson. PFF says Robinson will receive $15 million a year and Spotrac.com $16.3 million.
Michael Gallup, Cowboys
The injury: The torn ACL suffered at the end of last season.
The receiver: Dallas has too many good receivers for Gallup to get away with. He is capable of any point of reception but would be better at the X or Z receiver on the outside than the slot. A calf injury early last year, followed by a torn ACL, ruined his production. He had as many as 66 catches for 1,107 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2019.
The cash projection: Spotrac says $11.8 million a year for a fast and talented young receiver. However, PFF is projecting problems for him given the late break from the ACL and a one-year, $5 million deal. Either could be worth it for the Bears.
DJ Chark, Jaguars
The injury: Left ankle fracture at the end of September. It may not seem as bad as a torn ACL, but tell Kyle Long. In Chark’s case, the fracture is said to not be as bad as Dak Prescott’s, so he could be 100% ready for the start of camp.
The receiver: He flirted with being a great receiver. He had 73 for a top and 1,008 yards as a top. In 2019-2020 his 126 catches for 1714 yards with 13 TDs seemed to announce his arrival. He did all of this with an uneven quarterback situation. Gardner Minshew was the best passer he had then. A good passing player along the touchline and an ideal type to replace Robinson, although not as physically strong. Would the Bears go back to Jacksonville and bring in another free agent from the Jaguars like with Robinson?
The cash projection: Seems almost unanimous at $12 million a year. PFF says three years and $36 million in total. Spotrac says an average deal of 11.9 million.
Ju Ju Smith Schuster
The injury: Season-ending shoulder surgery after five games in 2021.
The receiver: He’s probably less of an X receiver and more of a slot, but the Bears don’t even have one yet. Smith-Schuster had a single 1,000-yard season, a magical 2018 with 111 catches and 1,426 yards. He’s been 831 yards or more three times, but it’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride as he endured the late years of Ben Roethlisberger’s career.
The cash projection: He signed a one-year, $8 million deal last year and PFF is seeing the same thing happen. Prior to his $8 million lowball contract, he was projected at $16 million by Spotrac, which might show what all those salary projections really mean.
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