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Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Daily mailbag: A wide receiver in Chicago?

By Kevin Seifert

Tuesday's SportsNation chat was admittedly a little thin on Chicago Bears content, so I wanted to make sure to address a question that a number of you have sent to the mailbag. Here's a version from Chris of Baltimore:
I know that one of our many pressing needs this offseason is at wide receiver; to get a true No. 1. I think it is fair to say that the early rounds in the draft should definitely be directed to the O-Line and maybe a DB. Since getting a stud receiver in the draft is a crap shoot, do you think that the Bears may make a move in free agency (assuming the CBA works itself out)?

It's interesting that we're back to a topic we spent much of last offseason on. Do the Bears truly need to add a No. 1 receiver? Or is the sum of their parts adequate, especially when you add tailback Matt Forte and tight end Greg Olsen to the mix?

Johnny Knox
Johnny Knox tied for the team lead in catches last season with 51 and averaged 18.8 yards per catch.
I would peg the Bears' offensive line as their top offseason need, by far. That's where their draft focus should lie. But as my AFC West colleague Bill Williamson recently pointed out, there will be a glut of receivers available on the free-agent market whenever the league and its players agree on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

That list includes Sidney Rice, Braylon Edwards, Malcom Floyd, Santonio Holmes, Steve Breaston, Randy Moss, Santana Moss, Steve Smith (of the New York Giants), Terrell Owens and Mike Sims-Walker.

So if you are the Bears this offseason, are you:
  1. Satisfied with the status quo?
  2. Interested only in an ideal addition?
  3. Determined to add more depth?

If I had to make an educated guess, I would say the Bears will land in category No. 2. I'm guessing they believe that Johnny Knox's 951-yard season was a sign that, with another year in Mike Martz's offense, he will be as close to a No. 1 receiver as they need. I would think they're satisfied with Earl Bennett as a tough possession receiver and know they have Devin Hester as a big-play slot man.

General manager Jerry Angelo has been reluctant in recent years to invest in receivers, and I'm not sure he'll feel compelled to change that tack in 2011.

With that said, I think the Bears should be disappointed if their top four wide receivers combine for 147 receptions next season, as they did in 2010. For comparison, consider that the Green Bay Packers' top four wide receivers combined for 222 receptions in 2010.

The Bears are hoping for internal improvement, first and foremost. If they can target a mid-level receiver that fits Martz's offense, the Bears might consider it. But if you're hoping they break the bank to acquire someone like Edwards or Holmes, you might be disappointed.

Bears coach Lovie Smith will be among those who speak to reporters at this week's scouting combine. We'll of course pass along any updates on the receiver situation as warranted.