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Bears choose strength in numbers at wide receiver position

Nicholas Moreano Avatar
May 13, 2022

Even though rookie minicamp ended on Mother’s Day, Ryan Poles continued to work. With no on-the-field activities at Halas Hall, the first-year general manager worked the phone instead – looking to add depth to his roster.

On Wednesday, Poles added two veteran wide receivers – signing Tajae Sharpe and Dante Pettis. The Titans drafted Sharpe in the fifth round of the 2016 draft out of the University of Massachusetts. The 27-year-old receiver has 117 receptions, for 1,397 yards and eight touchdowns in 66 career games. Chicago will be Sharpe’s fourth team after playing in Atlanta and Minnesota.

Pettis was selected in the second round by the 49ers in 2018. In three seasons in San Francisco, he never played a full season and was limited to 28 games due to a series of injuries. While Pettis, 26, was in New York, he played in just five games. In his NFL career so far, the former Washington Husky has caught 53 passes for 739 yards and nine touchdowns. 

With the two additions, the Bears cut receivers Cyrus Holder and Henry Litwin to give them 11 total.  However, this number can easily change over the course of the next few weeks and months and it likely will.

  • Darnell Mooney
  • Byron Pringle 
  • Velus Jones Jr. 
  • Equanimeous St. Brown
  • Dazz Newsome 
  • Nsimba Wester
  • David Moore
  • Kevin Shaa
  • Chris Finke 
  • Tajae Sharpe
  • Dante Pettis

A lot has been made about the wide receiver room that second-year quarterback Justin Fields is going to work with this season, and the Bears are taking the approach of quantity over quality to help the young quarterback. 

Instead of signing one higher-priced wide receiver such as Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones or T.Y. Hilton — who coach Matt Eberflus has familiarity with from Indianapolis — Poles is taking multiple swings at the position. This strategy increases the probability of potentially finding a contributor to round out the depth chart. 

Before the Bears added Sharpe and Pettis, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy shared what he liked about the wide receivers on the roster. 

“I think we have enough guys on this team that have played a lot of ball in the league,” Getsy said. “I think it’s just that experience of playing with the quarterback and teaching him the body languages, the signals you wanna send to him when you’re ready to make a break. You can see that happening every single day how much more comfortable these guys are getting and how much comfortable Justin is getting with those guys. So I’m excited. It’s been getting better every single day. I’m excited to see where these guys can go.”

And how far this offense will go will of course be on Fields, but also on Getsy.

“I think the system will enable some of these guys to play at their potential,” Getsy said. “And so we’ll see what we can do. We’ll give them an opportunity to show’em what they got.”

For this group of receivers to compliment Fields, Getsy’s system has to bring out the best in these players. Pringle, Brown, Pettis and even Newsome need to see what their potential could be if given more targets in this scheme and if the players can stay healthy. 

Mooney, who is entering Year 3, caught 81 passes for 1,055 yards and four touchdowns in Matt Nagy’s offense. The Bears’ No. 1 receiver still has an opportunity to showcase how he can grow this upcoming season. 

Getsy obviously doesn’t have a receiver like Davante Adams anymore. Most teams in the NFL don’t. Instead, the Bears have strength in numbers and will use that approach in 2022. 

“Hopefully when you watch us it’s 11 as one and we’re firing off the football better than everybody else in this league and we’re finishing better than everybody else in this league,” Getsy said. “Those are the things we’re talking about every single day. We’re taking care of the football, getting off the rock and we’re finishing better than everybody else in this league. That’s our mentality. That’s our purpose. If we can do that, we’ve got a chance.”

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