Exploring the Bears' free agent/practice squad wide receiver options

Exploring the Bears' free agent/practice squad wide receiver options
Markus Wheaton stretches during a Bears' practice (Photo credit: Chicago Tribune).

The Bears are now down to four healthy wide receivers.

On Thursday, the Chicago Sun-Times' Adam Jahns reported that veteran Markus Wheaton has a torn groin that will keep him out four to six weeks. Wheaton, who has appeared in three games this season has one catch for nine yards.

The 26-year-old Wheaton has been dealing with injuries since entering the NFL in 2013 via Pittsburgh. His start with the Bears has been no different. Wheaton underwent an appendectomy during the opening week of training camp in July. He then broke his pinkie finger catching a pass shortly on Aug. 13 which forced him to miss the first two weeks of the regular season.

Signed to a two-year, $11 million deal with $6 million guaranteed, Wheaton is looking to be a weak pickup by Bears' general manager Ryan Pace.

That means the only receivers on the active roster are Kendall Wright, Josh Bellamy, Tre McBride and Tanner Gentry.

Note: Wright leads all Bears pass catchers with 18 catches, 200 yards and a touchdown. Bellamy has 10 catches for 114 yards while McBride caught his first reception of the season last week, an 18-yarder. McBride finished behind Wheaton on Monday night with 43 snaps.

Gentry earned the promotion from the practice squad on Wednesday as the Bears released receiver/return man Deonte Thompson in a corresponding move. Gentry, an undrafted rookie from Wyoming had two catches for 27 yards in a Week 2 appearance against Tampa Bay. He has a good chemistry with rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky as the two played together throughout the preseason.

Two receivers are on the Bears' practice squad in Mario Alford and Darreus Rogers. Alford is a 25-year-old former 2015 seventh round who is on his fourth NFL team. He stands at 5'9". Rogers is an undrafted rookie from USC who signed Wednesday. He is a 6'1" possession receiver.

That leaves the Bears in a tough situation. Cameron Meredith and Kevin White are both on injured reserve and are likely out for the season.

The Bears have to make a move to add more receiver help as soon as possible.

With that being said, here is a looking at some options at wide receiver through free agency and other team's practice squads.

Free Agent Finds

Aaron Dobson

The 26-year-old was released in early September with an injury settlement (hamstring) by Arizona. A 2013 second round pick, Dobson has 13 starts, 53 receptions, 698 yards and four touchdowns to his name. He's looking for another chance and if healthy, he's worth a gander.

Dorial Green-Beckham

Perhaps a lost cause at this point is another second round pick in Green-Beckham. The third-year pro has been without a team since June when Philadelphia released him. He has 12 career starts along with 68 catches for 941 yards and six touchdowns. At 6'5", he is a giant receiver who is still only 24 years old.

Marquess Wilson

Bears fans know the name well and it doesn't help his stock that he was released by the New York Jets prior to final cuts. The 6'4" receiver is in his fifth NFL season and is 25 years old. He combined for 56 catches for 777 yards and three touchdowns while making 14 starts with the Bears. This is certainly a long shot, but crazier things have happened.

Practice Squad Pickups

Cobi Hamilton (Texans)

The 26-year-old has been a member of six NFL franchises. He was originally a third round selection by Cincinnati in 2013. Hamilton started eight of 11 games in Pittsburgh a season ago, grabbing 17 passes for 234 yards and two scores. At 6'2", 200 lbs., he has experience.

Maurice Harris (Redskins)

Harris appeared in 10 games for Washington as an undrafted rookie, making eight catches for 66 yards. The 6'3", 200-pounder emerged late in his collegiate career at Cal and has done enough to stick around with the Redskins. He could be a name to remember.

Malachi Dupree (Bills)

A seventh round pick by Green Bay in this year's draft, Dupree is now on Buffalo's practice squad after failing to make it with the Packers. The 6'2", 196-pounder was a track star in high school and finished the past two seasons at LSU leading the team in receptions and receiving yards.

Quincy Adeboyejo (Ravens)

Falling off in terms of touchdowns in his senior season (1), Adeboyejo caught seven touchdowns the year prior at Mississippi. He went undrafted in this year's draft and is waiting his turn in Baltimore. The 6'3", 197-pounder ran an impressive 4.42 second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in February.

Carlton Agudosi (Cardinals)

A former two-sport high school athlete (basketball and football), Agudosi is a huge receiver at 6'6", 220 lbs. He played on a bad Rutgers team the past four seasons, totaling just 35 catches for 513 yards and two touchdowns. Agudosi posted a ridiculous 40.5-inch vertical leap at his pro day. The Bears desperately need tall receivers to get up and get balls and this kid is massive.

Cayleb Jones (Vikings)

The older brother of Buffalo's second round rookie receiver Zay Jones, Caleb is on his second team in two seasons. He totaled 129 receptions, 1,926 yards and 14 receptions in two seasons at Arizona after transferring over from Texas. The 6'3", 209-pounder has really good hands.

Jonathan "Bug" Howard (Browns)

At 6'4", 221 lbs., Howard is someone Trubisky knows well from their time together at UNC. Howard went undrafted after compiling a senior campaign with 53 catches for 827 yards and eight touchdowns. He doesn't have the best speed (4.58 second 40-yard dash), but he is a lengthy receiver who can move the chains. Howard's familiarity with Trubisky makes his name intriguing.

Keon Hatcher (Raiders)

A foot injury slowed Hatcher early in his college career at Arkansas, but he totaled 14 touchdowns over his final two seasons there. At 6'1", 212 lbs., he's a pure athlete. He isn't fast, but he's strong and that could earn him a chance here.

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Filed under: Bears News

Tags: Bears, Markus Wheaton, NFL

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    It is time to bring Alford up from practice squad to starter WR and watch the Lord show out

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