Rueben Randle

Bears release veteran wide receiver Eddie Royal, waive three others

Bears release veteran wide receiver Eddie Royal, waive three others

The Bears offseason, already among the NFL’s busiest, spun again on Thursday with roster trims that included wide receiver Eddie Royal and defensive lineman Will Sutton, two players that finished 2016 on injured reserve but had figured prominently into personnel and rotation packages over the past two seasons.

Also waived were offensive lineman Cornelius Edison and fullback Paul Lasike.

Royal was a high-profile signing in the first offseason under GM Ryan Pace and coach John Fox, agreeing to a three-year deal with $10 million guaranteed with the plan for him to be a slot receiver complementing Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White. But with a succession of injuries, Royal played in just nine games in each of the past two seasons, finishing with 33 catches last season and 37 in 2015, and a total of just 3 TD receptions, plus a punt returned for a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles last season.

[BEARS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

His contract contained no more guaranteed money for this season. The Bears’ signings of Rueben Randle, Markus Wheaton and Kendall Wright, the anticipated return of White from a broken leg, and the emergence of Cameron Meredith created a crowd on the depth chart ahead of Royal, who turns 31 this month.

Sutton was a third-round pick in 2014 under then-GM Phil Emery, projected as a 4-3 interior pass rusher out of Arizona State. He earned a spot in the 3-4 schemes under coordinator Vic Fangio and line coach Jay Rodgers, and started six games last season as an undersized nose tackle before going down for the year with an ankle injury against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The offseason additions of Jaye Howard from the Kansas City Chiefs and John Jenkins from the Seattle Seahawks added needed size to the defensive line, which also has Jonathan Bullard, Eddie Goldman, Akiem Hicks and Mitch Unrein in the mix for front-line playing time.

Report: Bears schedule visit with former Pro Bowl wide receiver Victor Cruz

Report: Bears schedule visit with former Pro Bowl wide receiver Victor Cruz

After releasing one veteran wide receiver on Thursday, the Bears will reportedly meet with another next week.

According to NFL Network's Kimberly Jones, former New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz is scheduled to meet with the Bears.

After missing the entire 2015 season with a calf injury, Cruz bounced back to play in 15 games with the Giants in 2016. He had 39 receptions for 586 yards and a touchdown.

[BEARS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Cruz, 30, has appeared in 67 career NFL games and has accumulated 303 receptions for 4,549 yards and 25 touchdowns.

Cruz helped the Giants capture the Lombardi Trophy in a victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. During the 2011 playoffs, Cruz had 21 receptions for 269 yards and a touchdown.

If the Bears sign Cruz, he'll join an already crowded wide receiver group which includes Cameron Meredith, Kevin White, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright, Josh Bellamy, Deonte Thompson, Daniel Braverman and Rueben Randle

Bears NFL Draft Preview: Creating WR depth while waiting for Kevin White's emergence

Bears NFL Draft Preview: Creating WR depth while waiting for Kevin White's emergence

CSNChicago.com Bears Insider John "Moon" Mullin goes position-by-position as the Bears approach the 2017 Draft, taking a look at what the Bears have, what they might need, and what draft day and after could have in store. Seventh in a series.

Bears pre-draft situation

Alshon Jeffery is on to Philadelphia after striking a one-year deal with the Eagles. For an offense that has let go of Jeffery, Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte, Martellus Bennett and Jay Cutler since the arrival of John Fox and his coaching staff in 2015, the search for replacement firepower has seldom been more urgent.

The splash from Cameron Meredith (14 games, 66 receptions) was a significant bright spot from the dismal '16. Bears are still waiting for some impact — ANY impact — from Kevin White after making him the No. 7 pick of the '15 draft and seeing his two NFL seasons end with broken leg bones. White was leading the Bears with 19 catches through four games last season when he was lost for the year, so some very guarded optimism is allowable.

"Kevin is going to have to step up, stay healthy, and he knows that, and he's motivated," said GM Ryan Pace. "We're excited about a handful of guys and we still have the draft ahead of us, too."

The free-agency addition of Eddie Royal in '15 was intended to bring an immediate infusion of veteran savvy and production at the nickel spot. Both his seasons were gutted by injuries, with a total of 70 receptions, the second-lowest two-year total of his nine-year career. Royal had foot surgery in December and is expected to be released when sufficiently healed.

This offseason was marked by a commitment to upgrading wideout speed, coming in the forms of Markus Wheaton from Pittsburgh and Kendall Wright from Tennessee.

"Markus is a deep threat receiver," Pace said. "[In] 2015 he was Top 10 in reception average. I really like his makeup and his toughness going all the way back to Oregon State, but he's a guy who can really run and gives us that element in our offense that I think that we need, speed. Unfortunately, he had a shoulder injury last year that happened kind of early in the season and then eventually needed surgery on it. But he's fully cleared now and we feel good about that now."

Pre-draft depth-chart'ing starters

WR - Kevin White

WR - Cam Meredith

WR - Markus Wheaton/Kendall Wright

Reserves: Dres Anderson, Josh Bellamy, Daniel Braverman, Rueben Randle, Eddie Royal, Deonte Thompson

[VIVID SEATS: Get your Bears tickets right here!]

Bears draft priority: Low/moderate

Names were added to the pool of options but none of the stature of Jeffery, and until the aggregate proves to better than simply average, the Bears will always look to add impact points-producers when the options present themselves. Rarely has their receiver corps had so many unprovens going into a season.

The organization believes White's run of bad luck is due to change and reduced some of the positional urgency with the offseason additions. Wheaton signed a two-year deal, Wright for one year, Meredith has had just one meaningful season and White is a virtual "rookie" for the third straight year.

Pace has drafted a wideout in each of his two drafts, White in '15 and Braverman last year. Braverman played three games without a catch and will be in another intense competition for a roster spot. Best guess would be a late-round wideout with abilities to enhance the return game.

Keep an eye on ...

Kenny Golladay, Northern Illinois — Caught 160 passes over two NIU seasons. Fits Bears' template for size (6-4, 218) and had private workout with them.

Jordan Westerkamp, Nebraska — Bears staffed his workout and could find a spot as a practice-squad player able to fill nickel role.

Chad Williams, Grambling — Private workout for Bears, had huge production and may be a value late-round pick for development.