The Bears will add an intriguing candidate to their array of skill players vying for a role in the offense. They agreed to a one-year deal with veteran wide receiver and return man Ted Ginn Jr. on Thursday, a source said.
Even at 35, Ginn is known primarily for one thing: superb speed.
He is heading into his 14th season and hasn’t been a game-changer in the return game for years, but he seems to still have something left. Coming off a 2018 knee injury, he played 57 percent of the Saints’ offensive snaps last season and made a solid contribution of 30 catches, 421 yards and two touchdowns.
Ginn joins a crowded field of players trying to get their hands on the ball this season.
After standout wide receiver Allen Robinson, the Bears have Anthony Miller, Cordarrelle Patterson and fifth-round pick Darnell Mooney. They also have pass-catching running backs in Tarik Cohen and David Montgomery, plus tight ends Jimmy Graham and Cole Kmet.
It’s logical to think more is better, but that was the Bears’ philosophy going into last season, and it didn’t exactly work out. Eventually, coach Matt Nagy will need to home in on a core of go-to playmakers and make sure he’s maximizing them.
The Bears have been loading up on first-round picks — Germain Ifedi, Artie Burns, Robert Quinn, Barkevious Mingo — and Ginn went No. 9 overall to the Dolphins after a blistering career at Ohio State.
The Dolphins were ripped for taking Ginn over Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn, but Ginn turned out to be the better pro by far. He ranks fifth in the ’07 draft class with 5,702 yards receiving, trailing Calvin Johnson, Greg Olsen, Dwayne Bowe and James Jones. Ginn was one of 13 players from that draft still active last season.
He has bounced around, and the Bears are his fifth team, but he has consistently been productive when healthy. Ginn has topped 400 yards from scrimmage in eight of his 12 full seasons.
Before his knee injury early in the 2018 season, he had a three-year stretch with the Panthers and Saints in which he averaged 50 catches, 759 yards and six touchdowns.
The Bears probably don’t imagine getting anything along those lines, but if he can come close to what he did in New Orleans last season, that would be valuable for a team that had only four players top 400 yards from scrimmage in 2019.
It’s unlikely Ginn will factor into the return game, where the Bears rely on Patterson on kickoffs and Cohen on punts. Ginn can do it if needed but has worked sparingly as a returner since 2017.
The Bears made no announcement on Ginn, and he was not on the NFL transaction wire Thursday, but the deal is expected to be finalized soon.