As the Chicago Bears look ahead to free agency, one need that the team must address is at the wide receiver position. Based solely on value given up, the Chase Claypool trade probably should have alleviated this need; nevertheless, the team still desperately needs a top receiver for quarterback Justin Fields. With the departures of Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim, many fans have clamored for the Bears to swing a trade for star receiver DeAndre Hopkins. However, Bears general manager Ryan Poles likely does not want to invest more premium draft picks into the wide receiver position. Thus, another familiar name — New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas — may make more sense for the Bears.
Michael Thomas is a bit of a confusing player in the current NFL landscape. The former All-Pro has still been effective when healthy; however, he has played in only ten games since setting the single-season receptions record in 2019. Thomas is on a Saints team that will be tens of millions of dollars over the cap next season and thus looking to shed unnecessary salaries. As New Orleans heads to a rebuild, the two years remaining on Thomas’s 5-year, $96 million contract will almost certainly become a cap casualty, resulting in Thomas hitting the open market. If he were to do so, the Bears should pounce, especially because they would not have to sacrifice any draft capital to do so.
Thomas still has the ability to be a high-quality NFL receiver. He has shown that whenever he has come back from his various injuries. And if Thomas is on a smaller, prove-it deal instead of the massive contract he is on now, losing him to injuries would not be the end of the world for the Bears. Thomas is a large target (he stands at 6’3” and weighs over 210 pounds) who is also one of the league’s best route runners. Adding a player of his caliber would significantly improve the quality of the Bears’ receiver group, giving Justin Fields a talented, experienced target. Bringing in a player of Thomas’s skillset without having to give up significant draft assets or money (assuming the Bears can sign him to a relatively inexpensive prove-it deal) would be huge for a team that has plenty of needs to fill.