Last week, I posed the question, Where do Bears go from here at wide receiver?
The Bears had decided not to place the franchise tag on Alshon Jeffery for a second consecutive season and decided to let the former Pro Bowler test the open market.
After rumors persisted for the past couple seasons that Jeffery was unhappy in Chicago and would likely bolt the city at the first opportunity, the fear was that it was all but inevitable the team would lose him this offseason.
And that’s exactly what happened after Jeffery agreed to a one-year, $14 million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday.
How will the Bears replace Alshon Jeffery? Well, that’s a question that’s not easily answered.
The team reportedly agreed to a deal with Steelers free agent Markus Wheaton Thursday night. But Wheaton’s speed and small stature are complete opposites of Jeffery’s large frame and ability to secure passes in traffic.
Third-year pro Kevin White will be returning to the field this season with only four games of NFL action under his belt. White started to show promise in that brief time in the spotlight, catching 19 passes for 187 yards before going down. But he is more of a game-breaker in the mold of Wheaton, with a little bit more size.
The Bears also saw promise out of Cameron Meredith last season as he was called into action to fill in when injuries ravaged Jeffery, White, and Eddie Royal. Meredith had a case of the drops, but he also showed some incredible promise, catching 66 passes for 888 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games played. His breakout game came against the Jaguars in mid-October when he caught 11 passes for 113 yards.
The Bears are banking on the trio of White, Wheaton and Meredith to elevate the play of the receiver position, but I’m not sure that any of those guys can be counted on with the game on the line.