Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson is one of the NFL's most respected pass-catchers. He was also one of the NFC's biggest Pro Bowl snubs after finishing 2019 with 98 catches, 1,147 yards and seven touchdowns.
But even with Robinson as Chicago's go-to-guy in the passing game, there was still something missing. For as fantastic as Robinson is, he doesn't have elite top-end speed that some of the NFL's best game-breakers possess.
Should the Bears focus some of their free-agent budget or 2020 NFL draft capital on a player like that? According to NBC Sports analyst Chris Simms, the answer is yes.
"I think the team is really still well-set up for success," Simms told NBC Sports Chicago. "The two things that jump out to me more than anything else are upgrading some of the offensive line – I think there needs to be one or two changes made there – and then, really, I think they need to find a game-breaker in the pass game on the offense, I really do. Allen Robinson’s really good; there’s a lot of really good with the Bears. But is there that guy that instills fear into a defense? I don’t know if there is, in the run game or the pass.
"What I’m basically saying is they need to find a weapon that’s a gameplan-changer for whoever’s playing defense against the Bears. That’s the one thing I think they really lack. Matt Nagy came from Kansas City, every week when people play the Kansas City Chiefs, they go ‘oh my gosh, how do we stop Tyreek Hill?’ And then you go, ‘oh we stopped Tyreek Hill, wait – there’s Travis Kelce! How do we do that?’ The Bears don’t have one guy yet that keeps a defensive coordinator up late at night to go, ‘how do I stop this incredible talent on their offense?’ So I would like to see that be made, some sort of splash move, whether it’s free agency or the draft, whatever it may be, to kinda get that game-changer on the offensive side of the ball."
It's a sentiment that's easier said than done, but according to Simms, the Bears are a team to watch in March.
"I just think they’re gonna make some huge marquee signing in free agency. I think there’s gotta be some play for a major free agent wide receiver or something like that."
Unfortunately, there aren't many receivers scheduled to hit the open market who necessarily fit that game-breaker description. Amari Cooper (Cowboys) will be too costly. A.J. Green (Bengals) likely will be, too, and even if his contract demands are reasonable, is he really all that different of a player than Robinson at this point?
Are the Bears really going to consider Tavon Austin (Cowboys) or DeAnthony Thomas (Chiefs) as speed players? Did Breshad Perriman do enough in his one season with the Buccaneers to warrant legitimate interest?
It seems more likely Pace will target a playmaker in the NFL draft; it's a deep wide receiver class that will offer players with legitimate upside on Day 3.
Regardless, with all the attention paid to the offense's struggles at quarterback and offensive line, a field-flipping receiver is a need Pace has to address over the next few months.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.