While free agency doesn’t officially begin until March 14th, Bears fans everywhere are anxiously awaiting to see who Ryan Pace is going to sign to elevate the team.
The Bears may not have the same appeal as a team that’s a perennial powerhouse, but Chicago is as great of a destination in 2018 as it has been in a long time. A young franchise quarterback in Mitch Trubisky, an exciting coaching staff and a top-10 defense makes this team on the rise a desirable destination for young free agents.
There are holes on this roster on both sides of the ball, but the Bears are undoubtedly in greatest need of help at wide receiver. Cameron Meredith coming back will surely help things in 2018, but that’s the only thing receiver-wise to be truly optimistic about.
Two names that need to be on Pace’s radar this offseason are Jarvis Landry and Allen Robinson.
It’s still possible that Landry may re-sign with the Miami Dolphins and Robinson could do the same with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but if they hit the open market, Pace better come calling.
Landry and Robinson both have been in the NFL four seasons and have experienced great success in the Sunshine State. Robinson tore his ACL in the first week of the 2017 season, so I’m going to look at their first three seasons for comparisons.
By looking at the numbers alone, it appears that Landry is a better receiver based on his ability to catch the ball on a more consistent basis than Robinson. But there are many reasons why this is the case.
For instance, Landry is a slot receiver. The majority of his receptions aren’t deep balls as you can see by his average yards per reception being significantly lower than Robinson’s in 2014 and 2015.
Landry also isn’t much a touchdown threat at all, as Robinson had more scores in 2015 alone than Landry had in three full seasons.
It’s hard to say who Chicago should rather have as a receiver as they are both game changers that can provide a great impact on offense. It will come down to what Matt Nagy and Mark Helfrich want the Bears offense to look like.
If they’re able to transform Tarik Cohen into some sort of slot receiver or a Tyreek Hill kind of player, I don’t think it would make as much sense for Landry to be on the Bears as they still would be lacking a true deep threat.
With the potential for Cohen to develop into more of a slot receiver than running back and for Meredith to grow on the opposite side of the ball, signing Robinson would make the most sense.
Don’t get me wrong, I would be elated if the Bears signed Landry, but Trubisky is in greater need of a red-zone/deep ball threat than a slot receiver.
It’s easier to find or develop someone that has success out of the slot than it is to find a top receiver in the NFL, and Robinson has shown the ability and potential to be an elite receiver.
Regardless of what the Bears receiving core looks like in 2018, I’m hoping the needs are addressed more through free agency than the draft. The Bears have the money (and appeal) to land a top receiver and there is simply too much uncertainty surrounding the top receivers in the draft.
The best move for the Bears is to sign Robinson (if he becomes a free agent), draft a receiver that can find success out of the slot with a later pick in the draft, and hope that Cohen can develop into a receiver. Trubisky, Meredith, and the rest of Chicago would prosper from this plan.