Among the Bears’ early moves in Free Agency 2017 was the signing of former Pittsburgh Steeler wide receiver Marcus Wheaton, a speed wideout of considerable promise with 53 catches in 2014 and 44 in 2015 before going on injured reserve with a shoulder injury after three games. The Bears have been search of increased speed and Wheaton, timed at 4.45 in 40-yard dashes, brings that to what is expected to be an extensively reconfigured depth chart in 2017.
Alshon Jeffery probably didn’t plan on a pay cut this year, but that’s kind of what he got for himself. Color him an NFL-wide casualty of a John Fox axiom posted on a Halas Hall corridor: “Ability is important. Dependability is critical.” Jeffery missed seven-plus games in 2015 with injuries, four games to a PED suspension last year and now a big payday this offseason, his second without the long-term deal he sought.
The Philadelphia Eagles signed Jeffery on Thursday to a one-year contract worth $14 million, down from the $14.599 million Jeffery was paid under the Bears’ franchise tag. If he can put together a year harkening back to his 2013-14 levels, he’ll make it up next deal. But for now, the Bears look like they knew what the market was, and wasn’t, for a bit of a puzzling player.
At this point the starting wide receivers for the 2017 Chicago Bears look to be Cameron Meredith (14 games, 66 catches, 888 yards, 4 TD’s) and Kevin White, who’s been in this position now in each of the two previous offseasons before leg injuries did him in. White has been rehabbing his broken leg and showing enough to inspire at least optimism if not full-blown confidence.
“He’s coming along fast,” said GM Ryan Pace last week at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I still have a lot of confidence in him. He has a lot of confidence in himself. We’re getting daily reports on his progress. I just want to see steady, consistent progress from him. Right now he’s getting his body all in alignment, and he’s feeling good. When I see footage of kind of where he’s at now, I get excited. I just want to see steady improvement.”
“The last two years we haven’t seen a lot. I have a confidence in our doctors and his rehab and his work ethic to get to the point we need to get to.”