Could past influence Bears ability to land Smith?

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Expect to hear a lot about the receiver position when the offseason signing frenzy begins, even if it won’t be and shouldn’t be the Bears’ No. 1 priority.

As tantalizing as many of the free-agent receivers might be, players such as Randy Moss, Braylon Edwards, Terrell Owens and Plaxico Burress don’t fit offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s disciplined scheme. Santana Moss would be the best fit but all signs point to him signing with the Redskins.

Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith wants to be traded to a contender and cleaned out his locker at Bank of America Stadium. He had the worst statistical season of his career while playing for the league’s least-productive offense last season. At 32, his best years are probably behind him, but he fits Martz’s offense, and the Bears have firsthand knowledge of how big an impact he can make after he torched them for 218 yards and two touchdowns in a 29-21 NFC divisional playoff loss in 2005.

Tom Sorensen of the Charlotte Observer, via ProFootballTalk.com, reporting that although the Bears meet Smith’s criteria of a playoff contender after advancing to the NFC Championship game last season, his preference is to play for either the Chargers or Ravens.

His preference may not end up being as big a factor as Ron Rivera’s. If Smith can be added for a third- or fourth-round pick, General manager Jerry Angelo shouldn’t hesitate, but here’s another factor: Does the first-year Panthers coach want to give coach Lovie Smith a potentially critical piece of a championship puzzle after the Bears’ coach chose not to retain him after the Super Bowl season in 2006?

I’m not saying yes or no, but it’s an interesting question.

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