Bears WR Byron Pringle: ‘Justin Fields comes to play’
Pringle’s new passer — Bears second-year player Justin Fields — isn’t Patrick Mahomes. No one is. But the Bears’ newest receiver thinks Fields will enable him to get open.
Byron Pringle has spent his NFL career living a receiver’s dream: For four seasons with the Chiefs, Patrick Mahomes was his quarterback.
Pringle’s new quarterback — Bears second-year man Justin Fields — isn’t Mahomes. No one is. But the Bears’ newest receiver thinks Fields will enable him to get open.
‘‘I see [Fields] as an elite quarterback,’’ Pringle said shortly after the Bears officially signed him Sunday. ‘‘He keeps his legs alive, and he definitely knows how to extend plays. And that is something that I did in Kansas City. When the play broke down, I always tried to get in the quarterback’s vision.
‘‘So with [Fields] being able to keep plays and drives alive, I know I fit perfectly in this offense, especially with a quarterback like Justin Fields.’’
Ryan Poles, who spent a third of his life in the Chiefs’ front office before becoming the Bears’ general manager in January, thinks so. He gave Pringle a one-year, $4 million guaranteed deal that could be worth up to $6 million with hopes he can build on a career year. Pringle caught 42 passes for 568 yards during the regular season in 2021 and starred in the playoffs, catching three touchdown passes in three games.
‘‘It’s speed over there, you know?’’ he said.
The Bears, whose receiving corps has been woefully slow in recent years, are banking that Pringle can stretch the field. He ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2018 before the Chiefs signed him as an undrafted free agent.
Poles likes the 6-1, 201-pound Pringle’s toughness and dependability. Asked what he thought his new boss saw in him during their time with the Chiefs, Pringle was direct.
‘‘Somebody that would come to work every day ready to compete at a high level and just have that mentality, that 1-0 mentality of coming to win,’’ he said. ‘‘I don’t care about no numbers. I want that letter at the end of the game, that W.’’
Pringle wasn’t the only familiar face the Bears signed Sunday. They brought back safety and special-teams stalwart DeAndre Houston-Carson on a one-year deal. Houston-Carson intercepted one pass, recovered two fumbles and started the first three games of his career on defense last season.
The Bears also agreed to a one-year deal with former Titans fullback Khari Blasingame, a source said. He led the way for Derrick Henry and has 10 catches for 97 yards and three rushes for six yards in 32 career games.
Two days after agreeing to terms with him on a contract, the Bears also signed run-stopping defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, who spent the last four seasons playing under Bears coach Matt Eberflus on the Colts.
The Bears already have four former Colts defensive assistants on staff. Muhammad’s addition means at least one player on the roster will be able to teach Eberflus’ 4-3 defense and ‘‘H.I.T.S.’’ system to his teammates.
‘‘The appreciation I have for coach Eberflus is the love that he has for the game,’’ said Muhammad, who had a career-high six sacks and started every game last season. ‘‘He’s the same guy every day. High-energy guy. He brings the juice. Nobody wants to win more than Eberflus, and I think a lot of people around here are going to see that. . . . He’s going to give you his all.’’
The Bears are nowhere near a Super Bowl. The fastest way for them to get there is for Fields to take a major leap. Pringle is ready to see it.
‘‘I can’t speak for every man, but I come to play,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m pretty sure, like you’ve seen on film, Justin Fields comes to play.’’