ESPN predicts Bears make a huge free agent splash at WR
Jeremy Reper - USA Today Sports

ESPN predicts Bears make a huge free agent splash at WR

by - Senior Writer -

I know the 2023 NFL Season has been over for less than 48 hours, but that doesn't take away what is to come for this team. After putting together an improved 7-10 season and holding the No. 1 pick for the second straight season, the Chicago Bears offseason is shaping up to be an exciting one full of questions.

Many of those questions will surround the coaching staff and whether or not Matt Eberflus will return, but you also have the questions surrounding Justin Fields and whether he will remain the starter. If the Bears are fully in on Fields going forward, look for them to trade the No. 1 pick in an effort to add to their roster both via the draft and outside the draft.

If they are not sold on Fields, look for him to be traded with Atlanta being a logical destination while shifting their focus to Drake Maye or Caleb Williams at No. 1. Whatever they decide to do, that No. 1 pick is going to go a long way to determine the future direction of this team. Still, it will be the free agent period that could set the team up for even better success.

After addressing the defense via free agency last offseason, the Bears will again enter this offseason with a ton of money and the possibility of building a playoff-contending roster. However, it would be the offensive side of the ball that Ryan Poles would address this season, and should he keep Fields around, look for him to address some of the skill positions to add to his arsenal.

As things sit right now, Cole Kmet and DJ Moore are the only proven and consistent WRs on this roster, and with Darnell Mooney entering free agency, the Bears are going to need at least one, if not two big-name WRs. Given how deep this year's WR class is, many expect the Bears to add a WR in the draft, which will most likely happen, but keep an eye on them in the free agent market as there will be plenty of WR options for the Bears to have.

According to Aaron Schatz of ESPN, not only does he think the Bears will move on from Fields and draft a QB at No. 1, but he thinks they will make an even bigger splash in free agency by landing five-time pro bowler Mike Evans. When you talk about some of the best WRs in the game, Evans is rarely mentioned, which is mind-blowing if you ask me.

Evans will be 31 at the start of the 2024 season, but all he has done in his nine seasons in Tampa has been putting up 1000-yard campaigns, which happened again in 2023. That is the definition of consistency, and that type of production has him as one of the top 10 WRs in the NFL and possibly even borderline top five. Across his nine NFL seasons, Evans had never had fewer than 1000 yards, with his career-low coming in 2017 when he was at 1001 yards.

With his strong 2023 campaign with Baker Mayfield and hauling in 79 catches for 1255 yards and 13 scores, Evans will enter the 2024 season with 762 career receptions for 11680 yards and 94 touchdowns. Talk about a true No. 1 option and potential hall-of-fame target; adding Evans to this offense would give the Bears not one, but two No. 1 WR options, which only a few teams can say they have.

The best part of Evans coming to the Bears would be adding a player completely opposite of Moore. On one side, you have Moore sitting at 6-1 and offering some of the best speed in the game. Then, you have Evans at 6-5 and 231 pounds, giving the Bears two different ways to attack a secondary.

While the overall production is what you love to see in a WR, his durability stands out even more, as he has never missed more than three games in a season. Looking at the Bears WR room this season, apart from Moore, nearly every other receiver missed at least that many games, so adding durable targets is huge for the success of this offense.

One of the most overlooked things about Evans is the experience he has with QBs across the board, as he has seen them all. From Mayfield this season to Tom Brady, Jameis Winston, and Mike Glennon, Evans has seen the best of the best to the worst of the worst and everything in between. He knows how to adapt to a different signal caller and their strengths and would be forced to do that in Chicago.

That shouldn't be an issue, and he would be the next piece to get this Bears team back to respectability. Even if this move seems like a fit, getting him will take a lot of work, which could be the biggest hang-up in the entire thing. Expected to reach at least 20 million per season, Evans will be looking for anywhere between 80-100 million dollars, give or take the length of the deal.

It's a steep price for someone on the wrong side of 30, but when you look at his consistent production and overall durability, Evans is worth every penny. Prepare for an offseason filled with questions and rumors, as the Bears will be at the center of it all.

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