CHICAGO -- With so much attention given to which veteran wide receiver the Chicago Bears should target once the NFL lockout ends and free agency begins, one new receiver already under contract is working to establish a rapport with his new teammates.
Former CFL standout Andy Fantuz, who signed a reserve/futures contract with the Bears on Feb. 4, 2011, participated last week in the Bears unofficial offseason workouts led by quarterback Jay Cutler, according to an NFL source.
Fantuz, who caught 276 passes for 4,136 yards and 23 touchdowns the last five seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, drew considerable praise from a few players in attendance at the workouts. Granted, Cutler and fellow quarterback Caleb Hanie are throwing passes without any defenders present, but Fantuz was said to display impressive athletic ability and good hands while running routes.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Fantuz hauled in 87 passes for 1,380 yards and six touchdowns in 2010.
With the departure of Devin Aromashodu, who failed to receive a restricted free agent tender from the Bears, and the unrestricted free agent status of veteran Rashied Davis, the team will likely have an opening for at least one new wideout to challenge for playing time in 2011. While the Bears certainly won't rule out using free agency to further address that need, Fantuz should be given a legitimate opportunity to win a roster spot when/if training camp opens next month.
Jeff Dickerson covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.