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The Chicago tenure of wide receiver Eddie Royal appeared to come to a formal end on Monday when the Bears placed the veteran wideout on injured reserve, the second year in a row that Royal will finish a season out with injuries.

Whether Royal is a Bear in 2017 now becomes highly problematic. The Bears signed Royal in 2015 to a three-year contract with $10 million guaranteed, including $4.5 million of it for 2016. The guaranteed money is now past, and his injury history makes him high risk, particularly with the emergence of Cameron Meredith and experience gained by younger receivers.

Royal, who missed seven games last year and parts of others with three different health issues, has been hampered with a toe injury suffered in the Jacksonville game. He missed the next two games, returned for Tampa Bay and New York but will now miss the final five games as well.

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Royal had been one of the NFL’s most competent nickel receivers, but his absence has been one of many contributing to difficulties on offense as the unit worked its way through three different quarterbacks this season.

“I think more fresh in my mind is this year, I know looking through some of the stats you look through in preparation for an opponent, even with his limited playing time I think he was still in the top 15 in third-down receptions as well as punt returns,” coach John Fox said. “But yeah, so we definitely could have used him had he been healthy and it's unfortunate that he's not.”