The Bears need a wide receiver, and one of the biggest names in the league just became a free agent. But Dez Bryant isn’t a fit for the Bears, and the Bears aren’t a fit for Dez Bryant.
Let’s start with the latter part of that: Why would Bryant want to come to Chicago? He already made it clear he wants to stay in the NFC East, apparently:
Dez walked out saying I'll see guys twice this year, I'm told. So that's that.— Mickey Spagnola (@Spags52) April 13, 2018
And while Bryant offered this statement on Twitter…
Cowboy nation I need you to know this wasn’t my decision.. I will always love y’all... forever Dallas in my heart— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) April 13, 2018
… He’d have an opportunity to stick it to the Cowboys if he signed, for, say, Washington or the New York Giants. Neither team made the playoffs last year, and the Giants are in the twilight of the Eli Manning era, so going to Washington and linking up with Alex Smith may make more sense from a competition standpoint.
If he doesn’t stick in the NFC East, it’d stand to reason Bryant would try to join a winning team. He turns 30 in November and has seen is production decline from those back-to-back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons from 2012-2014. If he wants a shot at a Super Bowl ring, being an unrestricted free agent could allow him to find a team that needs a receiver and is knocking on the door of a championship. The Bears don’t fit that bill yet.
And the Bears already splurged on Allen Robinson this offseason. Would Bryant be okay playing second fiddle on a team that’s lost 10 or more games in each of the last four years?
But let’s assume for a moment that Bryant actually is interested in the Bears. Why would the Bears want him?
Yes, Bryant has been one of the league’s best receivers, but that was four years ago. Since his peak in 2014, Bryant has averaged 50 catches for 678 yards per season, while missing an average of three games every year. More importantly: Bryant hasn’t even caught 50 percent of his targets since 2015:
Since 2015, Dez Bryant has...— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 13, 2018
- made $300K per reception (most in NFL)
- caught 49.7 pct of targets (worst in NFL, min. 200 targets)
Bryant's cap hit this season was set to be $16.5M, 2nd-highest among WR behind only Mike Evans. https://t.co/ooACHdFXUw
The Bears already have two bigger outside receivers in Robinson and Kevin White, so from purely a “need” standpoint, they probably don’t need a third — especially one who’s about to turn 30 and hasn’t had his production match his pay in a few years. More likely, the Bears need a flexible, quicker receiver who can play in the slot and outside.
Plus, the Bears’ plan has been to build through youth. Even in splurging on Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton this spring, the oldest of that bunch is the 27-year-old Gabriel. If the Bears are going to sign a free agent receiver in his late 20's, someone like Jeremy Maclin, Dontrelle Inman or Kamar Aiken makes more sense.
This isn’t to say Bryant isn’t still a good player — whatever team signs him could get a motivated receiver with something still left in the tank. Not that Bryant is Randy Moss, but Moss went from a disappointing 553-yard age-29 season with Oakland to a ridiculous, 1,400-yard, 23-touchdown season with the New England Patriots at age 30. It could happen.
Just not with the Bears.