Kevin White is, as expected, entering a walk year.
The Bears decided not to exercise his fifth-year option ahead of Wednesday’s 11:59 p.m. deadline, a source said, leaving the receiver one more season to try to make the impact the Bears hoped for upon drafting him seventh in 2015.
The decision was no surprise. Signing White for 2019 would have cost the Bears $13.924 million. The salary would have been guaranteed for injury — no small ask for a receiver who’sappeared in only five games due to three season-ending injuries, totaling 21 catches for 193 yards. In 2015, White missed his entire rookie year after having surgery to repair a stress fracture in his leg. A broken left fibula in his fourth game of the 2016 season cost him the rest of the year. He broke his shoulder blade in last year’s opener.
Memphis’ Anthony Miller, drafted in the second round Friday, was the third major receiver acquired by the Bears this offseason. They signed Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel in March.
Two weeks ago, coach Matt Nagy said White “looked sharp,” “played fast” and “showed strong hands” during the team’s minicamp.
He said that a new staff — and new offense — would help the receiver.
“ If any of us were in that situation and you have a fresh start—forget about the whys of what happened. Forget about that. That doesn’t matter,” he said. “What matters is about right now. He’s young. He has a big ceiling. Now, we can try to do it as much as we can as coaches and try to pull it out of him, but he’s got to work hard.
“He’s got to put time in the playbook. He’s got to put in the extra work after practice when he can. And then when the game comes, he’s got to make plays. When you do that, his confidence will slowly get better and better. The physical tools, forget about it. He’s got all that. It’s just a matter of him mentally, right now, seeing it happen and stacking them play by play in each practice.”
The seventh overall pick, White is the second-highest draftee from 2015 to have his option declined. The Jaguars decided against keeping edge rusher Dante Fowler, who was drafted third.
The Bears’ declined the fifth-year option for cornerback Kyle Fuller last year, but he posted the best season of his career. The Bears issued him the transition tag after the season, and matched a four-year offer sheet from the Packers that guaranteed him $18 million.