GM Ryan Pace will overhaul Bears WRs, but whom would he dare keep?

SHARE GM Ryan Pace will overhaul Bears WRs, but whom would he dare keep?

Bears receiver Kendall Wright makes a catch Sunday. (Getty Images)

Whether Kendall Wright admits it or not, the Bears have a receiver problem.

This offseason, general manager Ryan Pace must replenish the position through the draft — the Bears could eye a wideout in the first round — and free agency to surround Mitch Trubisky with talent.


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Wright argued that Bears receivers have only been as good as the chances they’re getting — or not — from offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains.

“We don’t get the opportunities that most receivers do,” he said this week. “The receivers that everybody calls good, which they are, they’re getting 12 to 13 targets a game. If you’re a receiver, if you’re getting two or three targets a game, are you good? I mean, how do you know if you’re good if you’re only getting two or three targets a game?

“If you watch one of our games, or somebody else’s game, I mean, [Steelers wide receiver] Antonio Brown will have 15 targets, and he’s great. But you come to our game, and we have two, and it’s, ‘The Bears need receivers.’

“No, they don’t need receivers.”

Yes, they do. The best of the Pace era, Alshon Jeffery, is starring this year — for the Eagles. Pace’s 2015 first-round pick, Kevin White, has started five times — and finished three — in a three-year career marred by injuries. The Bears will certainly decline his fifth-year option this offseason, making 2018 a walk year, if he lasts that long.

Pace’s other drafted wide receiver, Daniel Braverman, had zero catches as a rookie last year and is out of football. Markus Wheaton, who signed a two-year, $11 million deal last offseason, has one catch.

The Bears might field the league’s worst receiving corps. But some of the four who take the field Saturday against the Lions still could return next season, albeit with new coaches and a new scheme most likely. All but Wheaton are pending free agents.

Handicapping their odds:

† Wright: Keeping Trubisky’s favorite target — Wright leads the Bears with 43 catches and 477 yards — makes the most sense. The slot receiver’s best skill is his feel for getting open, and that should age well. If the Bears chase dynamic outside receivers, he’d still fit in.

“He has good short-area quickness, a good feel for leverage and how to beat that leverage,” coach John Fox said. “[That’s] important for a slot receiver.”

† Dontrelle Inman: The Bears have praised Inman’s work ethic since they traded for him in late October. His versatility — Inman can play outside and inside — and experience would benefit incoming receivers.

If he keeps playing well — in five games with the Bears, he has 15 catches for 216 yards — Inman will have suitors. He turns 29 in January, though. Cam Meredith, recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, can play inside and outside and is four years younger.

† Josh Bellamy: With 15 catches for 227 yards, Bellamy is on pace for his best receiving season. Loggains has called him the team’s fastest receiver, presumably not counting Tarik Cohen, and a solid blocker.

Bellamy is an outsized personality — he was in the screaming match that got Tre McBride fired — and is a better special-teamer than pass-catcher. The Bears will want him back to do the former; he’ll want to be paid like the latter.

† Wheaton: Mike Glennon wins the medal for the league’s worst free-agent signing, but Wheaton might be at the podium. He has one catch, on the meaningless last play of the Vikings game.

He has been healthy the last five games, but the Bears have given him only 24 snaps. It’s clear they consider him borderline unplayable, even in a lost season. The Bears can cut him this offseason and save themselves $5 million. There’s little doubt they will.

Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley.


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