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.”
For some reason, on Monday evening, hair plug enthusiast and former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher felt his input was necessary.
Urlacher hopped on over to Grant Hill's (??) Instagram account and decided that he'd contribute by leaving inflammatory nonsense in the comment section, where the most useful and productive conversation always takes place:
Hey Brian? What was the point of this? Surely you can find something better to do with your time, right? If you're looking for overwhelming validation on social media just make a joke about Aaron Rodgers. And while we're on the topic, did YOU watch that press conference, Brian? I'd bet if you asked the vast majority of fans you made your Instagram for if they felt protected right now, the answer would surprise you. No one's forcing you to carry all that water because you spent 120 seconds in the Oval Office. Maybe just log off for the night! It's really easy! All you do is literally anything else besides going on random athlete's pages to start fights.
The central issue surrounding the Bears heading into the upcoming season concerns the starting quarterback situation, and that previous statement could apply to many more seasons than just 2020. Longtime ESPN 1000 host Tom Waddle is no stranger to QB drama, as the former Bears receiver has been a leading voice in analyzing the team for over a decade on the station’s highly-successful “Waddle & Silvy” show. When the Bears made their move to trade for Nick Foles in March, Waddle’s immediate reaction was a strong one, as he recounted to Laurence Holmes on the Under Center podcast.
“You don’t trade a fourth-round pick and give up $20 million guaranteed to a quarterback and sit him behind a QB that you don’t have full faith in,” Waddle explained. “I immediately thought this is going to be their starting quarterback. I think the familiarity that Nick Foles has with John DeFilippo and Bill Lazor and Juan Castillo and obviously Matt Nagy, I think you put that all together and you couple the familiarity with the uncertainty that is in the mind of the head coach about what the existing quarterback is capable of doing, and to me, it all added up to they got a guy that they trust and a guy that they see as their starter from Day 1.”
That doesn’t mean Foles will be an automatic savior. Of course, he led the Eagles to a Super Bowl title with a brilliant string of play in January and February of 2018, eventually outdueling Tom Brady to win the title in a shootout. But Foles has started more than eight games in a season just twice in his eight-year pro career, the last coming in 2015 with the then-St. Louis Rams.
RELATED: 2020 Bears Roster Review: Breaking down the Mitch Trubisky-Nick Foles battle
However, the fact that the Bears were aggressive in identifying Foles and then trading with Jacksonville speaks volumes about how they feel about him and it’s that conviction that truly sells Waddle on Foles being the starter. “If you were just looking for somebody to compete with Mitch, you could have waited out the Bengals, who were more likely to release Andy Dalton,” hypothesized the former Boston College Eagle. “You could have signed Case Keenum, but I don’t think the Jags were releasing Nick Foles at any point because of the contractual obligation they had to him. They had to go get him and once they went and got Nick Foles, that was the surest sign of all, in my world, that Nick’s got the edge.”
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