Bears Offseason Outlook: Wide Receiver

Quality and continuity returns at receiver for quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

Chris Emma
February 01, 2019 - 12:02 pm
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Editor's note: This is the third in a series of positional breakdowns as the Bears enter the offseason. Click here for all of them as we move along.

(670 The Score) In 2018, the Bears turned one of their greatest positional needs at wide receiver into a team strength. They entered the year with a poor receiving group and created quality and continuity around quarterback Mitchell Trubisky through their work in free agency and the draft.

What's next for the Bears' receiving group will help define Trubisky and vice versa. Their first season together brought positives while offering more hope for what's ahead.

Who's back: Allen Robinson, 25; Taylor Gabriel, 27; Anthony Miller, 24; Javon Wims, 24; Tanner Gentry, 24 (reserve/future); Cyril Grayson, 25 (reserve/future); Jordan Williams-Lambert, 24 (future/reserve)

The core pieces for Trubisky's third season are in place, with the Bears holding Robinson, Gabriel and Miller under contract for the next two seasons. Along with tight ends Trey Burton and Adam Shaheen and running back Tarik Cohen, they're are the primary targets in this offense.

The Bears hope for more positive steps from Wims, their seventh-round pick in 2018, and are giving Gentry, Grayson and Williams-Lambert a chance this offseason.

Free agents: Kevin White, 26; Josh Bellamy, 29

After three injury-marred seasons with the Bears, White was finally healthy for a full season in 2018 but didn't make much of an impression on coach Matt Nagy and his staff. White was lauded for a positive attitude during a difficult run in Chicago, but he was often a healthy scratch, and his time with the Bears is likely up.

Bellamy has been a key special teams player and also found a small role within Nagy's offense, haling in 14 catches on the season. He will likely be retained for a sixth season in Chicago.

2018 review

Entering last offseason, Bears general manager Ryan Pace stated clearly that wide receiver was a priority to address, and he did just that. In came Robinson on a three-year, $42-million deal and Gabriel on a four-year, $26-million deal. He then traded the Bears' second-round pick in 2019 to the Patriots to pick up another 2018 second-round slot, which he used to draft Miller out of Memphis. Before the draft ended, Pace scooped up Wims in the last round.

Pace and the Bears sought out to add receivers with the right mix of experience and upside, and that approach benefited Trubisky in his second NFL season. Bears receivers caught 14 of Trubisky's 24 touchdown passes in 2018, led by Miller's seven. Miller was hampered by multiple left shoulder dislocations as a rookie, an injury that will necessitate surgery this offseason.

Robinson in particular impressed toward the end of the season as his rhythm with Trubisky began to reveal itself. He posted 55 receptions for 754 yards and four touchdowns in 13 games. He was at his best in the Bears' loss to the Eagles in the wild-card round, with 10 catches for 143 yards and a touchdown.

The Bears found they had more than just a gadget in Gabriel, who led all receivers with 67 receptions (93 targets), 688 receiving yards and two touchdowns. The rookie Wims found an opportunity in place of Robinson during the Bears' regular-season finale, posting four receptions for 32 yards at Minnesota.

The receiving corps showcased its potential as Trubisky's comfort with the offense grew during the course of his first season with new targets, coaches and schemes.

2019 outlook

After Pace went to work on changes a year ago, the Bears are well-positioned around the 24-year-old Trubisky now and comfortable with their receivers.

The top three receivers in Robinson, Gabriel and Miller are all set to return. Bellamy will likely be brought back under a new contract, and he, Wims and several others will fight for their place in the offense.

What kind of production follows for the Bears receivers relies heavily on Trubisky and the type of strides he makes in 2019.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.​