Chicago Bears – Remaining Free Agents (Offensive Skill Players)
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Michael Crabtree, 49ers (27 | 6’1 | 214) – It’s hard to believe, but Crabtree was PFF’s 4th overall WR in 2012 after an 85 catch, 1,105 yards, 9 TD season. In the two seasons since Crabtree’s stats have dropped significantly every season till the low point of his career in 2014 with just 48 catches, 625 yards and 2 TDs. It’s hard to pinpoint why his stats have gotten so much worse. It very well could be that Kaepernick sucks or Crabtree has lost a few steps, but there is still talent there and in a better offense with a better QB, Crabtree could get back to his dominant 2012 level. I’m not sure Cutler qualifies as a QB upgrade, but lining up across from Alshon Jeffrey should at least draw less attention to Crabtree. He could be an affordable signing with 75 catch, 1,000 yard, 8 TD potential.
Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs (30 | 6’2 | 221) – A #2 Wr who has been miscast as a #1 his whole career. Bowe has the size and speed to be a #1, but drops way too many passes and isn’t a sharp route runner. He can’t get open vs top corners, but in a 2nd receiver role he’ll be able to get open more often but still needs to catch the ball consistently. Bowe has also been stuck with bad QBs his whole career. If Bowe was in an offense with a good #1 across from him and a QB that can throw the ball downfield, then Bowe could surpass his perceived value. I’m not sure if the Bears meet that criteria, but it’s clearly a better offensive situation than Kansas City.
UPDATE: The Browns have signed Bowe to a 2-year contract.
Jarrett Boykin, Packers (25| 6’2 | 218): After a promising rookie season in 2013 (49, 681, 3), Boykin lost his job as the #3 WR to rookie 2nd round pick Davante Adams last year. Boykin showed promise in his chance to play back in his rookie season and could be an underrated asset in the free agency class this year. The Packers not only have Adams, but fellow 2nd year WR Jeff Janis who also has a high ceiling and almost ensures that Boykin will hit the free agent market. It won’t cost much for the Bears to sign Boykin and he could be a solid 3rd receiver if Marquess Wilson doesn’t step up.
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Jerrel Jernigan, Giants (26 | 5’9 | 181) – A former 3rd round pick in 2011 who has spent most of his career buried on the Giants depth chart behind Victor Cruz. Jernigan got a chance to start the last three games of the 2013 season and averaged 6 catches for just under 80 yards per game with a 6.6 grade from PFF in those 3 games. He was in line for more playing time in 2014 before injuring his foot in week 2 and missing the rest of the season. The Bears just signed a slot receiver in Eddie Royal, but Jernigan is younger (26) with more upside, can further diversify the Bears receiving core, can return kicks and punts, and shouldn’t cost much due to his injury and lack of playing time so far in his young career.
Rod Streater, Raiders (26 | 6’3 | 200): Has the physical tools to be a legit #1 WR. Streater has good size (6’3, 200), deep speed (4.37), runs good routes and is a surprisingly good blocker from his days in Temple’s run-first offense. Streater was stuck on a really bad Raiders offense for the first two years of his career, but put up a respectable 60 catch, 888 yard, 4 TD season in his first year as a starter in 2013. I thought Streater had breakout potential in 2014, but his season was cut short due to an injury (foot) after just three games. Streater’s recent injury and lack of pedigree will keep the price low, but he has considerable upside. Streator is a restricted free agent, but the Raiders will most likely be drafting a WR in the first round and already have receivers James Jones, Andre Holmes, Denarius Moore, and their future 1st round pick in the mix at receiver so may not match an offer.