Why Chicago Bears retained Dante Pettis

Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears signed Dante Pettis in a decision that disappointed some fans. The idea is that the team is supposed to dramatically improve at the wide receiver position, and while Pettis was arguably their best asset last year, that spoke to just how bad things were.

Even if Pettis is signed on for the five or six job after being nearly the one or two last year, fans want him completely gone, signaling a complete transformation. The big reason why Pettis is back comes down to special teams.

Chicago Bears re-sign Dante Pettis

Last season Dante Pettis was not just the starting punt returner, he was the only punt return option they trusted on the roster. They started with Velus Jones, but he never returned punts in college and fumbled too many chances to get his spot back. Equanimous St. Brown was not returning punts, so the list was thin. Still, this offseason they did not add a clear option to replace Pettis in that role.

Neither Travis Homer nor D'Onta Foreman has that on their resume. D.J. Moore returned punts early in his career, and can when the team needs a spark, but it is hard to see them expecting him to fill that role himself. When you add in that Darnell Mooney, St. Brown, and Chase Claypool have no experience it is easy for Pettis to slot back into his role.

Overall, the Chicago Bears will keep five or six receivers. With Moore, Mooney, Claypool, and Velus Jones they have four. St. Brown and Pettis bring special teams value in their own ways and could make up the final six.

So, the reality is that when you think of who the Chicago Bears will draft as a wide receiver, the best bets are a replacement for St. Brown or Pettis in the short term. That means players with special teams experience.

Safety Brandon Jones is a wild card with return-game ability. Also, Parker Washington, Demario Douglas, Derius Davis, Charlie Jones, Jayden Reed, Marvin Mims, and Josh Downs bring in strong profiles in the punt return game. We recently had Parker Washington mocked to Chicago in round five.

Since the Chicago Bears will not draft wide receiver high, and they must focus on the line, the role player types like the names listed above are probably the best possibility for the team.