It’s no secret that one of the biggest struggles of the Chicago Bears is their lack of weapons for rising star quarterback Justin Fields. This lack of separation and trustworthy weapons, combined with poor offensive line play, causes Fields to get sacked too often or forces him to use his legs. While his running is top tier for quarterbacks, the Bears’ passing game needs to improve to even out the offense. With that being said, let’s evaluate the current weapons Fields possesses, along with a few potential targets to acquire.
Cole Kmet (TE):
A physical runner and an improving pass catcher, tight end Cole Kmet led all Bears in receptions (50), receiving yards (544), and receiving touchdowns (7). However, five of these touchdowns came in the span of three games: a hot streak. Kmet has shown his potential to be a truly outstanding pass catcher, but just needs to be more consistent with drops.
Darnell Mooney (WR):
It was a tough end to the season for top wide receiver Darnell Mooney. Coming into the year with high expectations, Mooney’s stats were pretty underwhelming before ending the season early due to injury. However, he has had spectacular catches (including a ridiculous one handed grab in week 5) and has flashed brilliance in his years with the Bears so far. Mooney needs a true threat to line up across from him on offense, or else the defense will completely focus on him.
Chase Claypool (WR):
The newly acquired wide receiver Chase Claypool has yet to have a breakout game with the Bears. This isn’t completely on him, as he had to first adjust to the new playbook then deal with quarterback issues/injuries. Still, the Bears hope Claypool can step up to be a big help for next year’s offense. A full offseason of getting familiar with the playbook along with adjusting to throws from Fields will definitely improve the limited Chase Claypool we saw in half the 2022 season.
Equanimeous St. Brown (WR):
One of the most underrated additions this year, wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown will be back for another year, after the Bears extended him for $1.25M next season. If you looked at St. Brown’s stats, you probably wouldn’t be impressed. However, operating in a revolving door full of wide receivers on the team, St. Brown clearly separated himself as the best blocker by far. If I had the time, I would make a highlight reel of all the beautiful blocks St. Brown has thrown, a truly underappreciated player in our offense. He is still a solid pass catcher as well, and could fit in nicely as the third wide receiver on the team.
Velus Jones Jr. (WR):
Finally, the roller coaster season for the rookie wideout Velus Jones Jr. ended on some high notes. Jones had a start of the season to forget, as he had multiple fumbles and didn’t contribute much. However, Jones started to pick it up towards the end of the season, flashing his speed on kick/punt returns and even scored a long touchdown on an end-around play. Jones could truly be a weapon for the Bears in similar jet-sweep packages or just as a speedster in general. A young talent with room to grow, Jones is someone to keep an eye on for next season.
Receivers to become free agents: Byron Pringle (WR), Dante Pettis (WR), N’Keal Harry (WR)