2015 NFL Free Agency: Eddie Royal Gives The Bears A Legitimate Slot Receiver

2015 NFL Free Agency: Eddie Royal Gives The Bears A Legitimate Slot Receiver
Eddie Royal #11 of the San Diego Chargers runs with the ball against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on September 8, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

The Bears have been searching for a solid slot receiver for quite some time. They found their man in Eddie Royal on Wednesday.

Royal, an eight-year veteran has excelled as a No. 3 option, averaging 48 catches, 536 yards and four touchdowns in his career.

Royal signed a three-year deal, $15 million deal including $10 million guaranteed with the Bears on Wednesday night just one day after visiting with the team, according to San Diego Union Tribune beat writer Michael Gehlken.

He is a nice piece for the Bears’ offense, who are looking to add depth after the trade of Brandon Marshall last week.

Last season was Royal’s best since his rookie campaign in 2008 with Denver. In 11 starts, Royal recorded 62 receptions for 778 yards and seven touchdowns.

The reception and yard totals were the most since that 2008 season while the touchdown total was his second-best to his eight in 2013.

He worked well with San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers the past three seasons, catching a total of 16 touchdowns. He has four seasons with 45 or more catches and three seasons with five or more touchdown grabs.

Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler made his only appearance in the Pro Bowl with Royal by his side in Denver. Royal, a second-round pick from Virginia Tech added a career-high 91 catches and 980 yards along with five touchdowns that season.

Cutler and Royal have a nice chemistry on the field something the Bears were lacking as an added dimension in their offense last season with an uninspiring combination of Santonio Holmes and Josh Morgan.

Royal averaged 12.5 YPC and had 14 receptions of 20 yards or more in 2014. He also had 22 catches on third downs.

New offensive coordinator Adam Gase was the wide receivers coach in Denver with Royal from 2008-09, so the adjustment period for him should be rather swift.

New Punt Returner?

Royal would also bring an added dimension in the return game which also lacked an identity with the departure of Devin Hester last off-season.

Royal has averaged 10.6 YPR on punts and 24.1 on kickoffs in his career. He has three combined return touchdowns (2 punt returns, 1 kick return).

He contributed as a punt returner in his time in San Diego with 30 returns. However, he hasn’t returned a kickoff since 2011 when he had three returns in Denver.

Royal should be in the mix for return duties with Marc Mariani the only proven return man on the Bears’ roster currently.

The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Royal combined for 18 touchdowns in four years at Virgina Tech. He hauled in 12 touchdown receptions, scored three punt return touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns and even threw a 53-yard touchdown pass his freshman year.

Final Thoughts

Pairing Royal with Alshon Jeffery and third-year man Marquess Wilson improves the Bears’ receiving core slightly. They still need to look in the draft to find a real No. 2 receiver since Wilson isn’t that kind of player just yet.

Amari Cooper and Kevin White could be some possibilities in the first-round if the Bears decide to go that route.

What are your thoughts on the Bears’ signing of Royal?

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