The Chicago Bears are going to be big spenders during free agency in 2023. They are lapping the field when it comes to available cap space as the second closest team, the Atlanta Falcons, is more than $34 million behind them in projected space.
With that kind of money to spend, the Bears are in a great position to make some big acquisitions this offseason. There are plenty of holes on the roster to fill, evident by their 3-14 record during the 2022 season. Arguably the biggest is at wide receiver.
Chicago has to upgrade the weapons around Justin Fields if they want him to take that next step in his development. We have seen what adding veteran wide receivers has done for other young quarterbacks around the league and it is time for Fields to benefit the same way.
Who could the Bears set their targets on? Here are three wide receivers that they should pursue in free agency.
3. Jakobi Meyers
There may not be a wide receiver in a better position heading into the offseason than Jakobi Meyers. He has developed into a very good player after landing with the New England Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2019. They will likely push to retain him, but as arguably the best player at his position, he could price himself out of town.
The Bears are one of the teams that could certainly offer him more than the Patriots are comfortable doing. He has played predominantly in the slot in his career, making him a good fit alongside Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool. However, he has shown versatility in being able to line up anywhere in the formation.
That kind of skill set is something the Bears could use more of. He is a sure-handed receiver that brings another big play element to the offense with his contested catch abilities.
2. JuJu Smith-Schuster
After signing one-year deals in consecutive offseasons, JuJu Smith-Schuster has put himself in a position to earn a multi-year deal with his performance in 2022. He had a solid bounceback with the Kansas City Chiefs and would be a nice addition to the Bears’ wide receiver group.
Smith-Schuster would be a huge upgrade in the short and intermediate passing game, as he isn’t afraid to work the middle of the field. He would bring some physicality to the position as well, something every team could use more of.
Arguably the best fit for him in Chicago is his ability as a run blocker. As a run-first team, that is something the Bears would love to add to the mix, helping keep defenses off balance without having to change personnel packages.
1. Michael Thomas
Given how much money the Bears have to spend, they can take a few chances in free agency. A high-risk, high-reward type signing such as New Orleans Saints star Michael Thomas could really take this offense to another level.
Before injuries derailed his career the last three seasons, Thomas was arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL. He had at least 92 receptions, 1,137 yards and five touchdowns in each of his first four seasons in the league, including a record-setting 145 catches in 2019.
In three games this season, he caught 16 passes for 171 yards and three touchdowns, showing that he can still get it done. Through three weeks, he was near the top of numerous receiving categories, reminding everyone how elite he is when he can stay on the field. While risky, there isn’t a wide receiver in this free agency class that overs true No. 1, dominant potential as Thomas does.