This Free Agent Wide Receiver is the best fit for Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears - Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bears - Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Bears are going to sign a wide receiver and probably two in free agency. They also will need to draft a wide receiver. That is what happens when you have Darnell Mooney and a bunch of question marks behind him. With that in mind, they sign some depth free agents, but also could be a team that is looking for an immediate fix at this position in free agency.

As some of the top names have been taken off of the market due to the franchise tag, some of the top options include Christian Kirk and D.J. Chark. These two are likely the best fits, and it comes down to what they want the most. For a couple of reasons, that should be Christian Kirk.

Chicago Bears should find an X in the draft

Darnell Mooney fills the Z role in the Chicago Bears offense, which means they need an X, or a slot to compliment him. Chark is an X in most instances, and Kirk spent 78% of his snaps in the slot last season.

While the X is a more valuable position, considering it is typically matched up with elite corners on the outside, it is also the hardest to find in free agency. The X position may be best served by drafting young talent and watching him grow into the role across from Mooney.

D.J. Chark is the rare X wideout who got away from his team, but that is because of the questions that come from lack of production and injuries. Still, those are not the traits you want in an X, and if you sign Chark long-term he has to be that guy.

Drafting an X, and signing a veteran slot may be the best route, especially because the upside of a rookie X is higher than Chark, and that position is more valuable than the slot.

Why is Christian Kirk is a perfect fit for Chicago Bears?

Christian Kirk had production issues, but a lot of those came when he was asked to play the Z, or the X role. Last season, we learned that Kirk is best as a slot wide receiver. Below you can see how often Kirk lined up in the slot, then his yards per route run for that season.

2018- 31% slot, 1.72 YPRR

2019- 42% slot, 1.41 YPRR

2020 – 16% slot, 1.21 YPRR

2021- 78% slot, 1.8 YPRR

By far his most efficient season came during the time that he was in the slot. So, while fans will see his full-year stats and say that he is not performing if he had been in the slot for 78% of his snaps in his first few years, he likely would have had more seasons like the 2021 season.

If that were the case his price would be even higher. This is the rare case where some are discounting his most recent production because they are not realizing that it was in a new role.

Why did Kirk become so efficient in the slot? It is because he is stretching the deep middle of the field and becoming one of the best deep threats out of the slot. Per PFF, his average depth of target in the slot is 11.8. That leads the NFL with Tyreek Hill behind him at 10.6. He is not Hill as a talent, but he stretches the field in the same manner.

Justin Fields is second in the NFL in average depth of target at 10.1. Arguably the only reason It was not higher is that he did not have a deep threat. Kirk and his 11.8 target depth will allow Fields to push the ball down the field more often, which is what he does best.

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There are not many other slot wide-outs that stretch the field the way that Kirk does. The Chicago Bears would be best off finding a long-term X in the draft and adding a slot who is the perfect fit for Justin Fields in free agency. Fans have to remember that in free agency it does not matter what a player did do because what they are about to do is all that matters. Kirk’s ascension in the slot and his best skill being the deep ball makes him the best fit in Chicago.