The Bears Are In Play For Free Agent Wide Receiver Brian Hartline

The Bears Are In Play For Free Agent Wide Receiver Brian Hartline
Brian Hartline #82 of the Miami Dolphins is tackled by Demontre Hurst #30 of the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on October 19, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Wide receiver Brian Hartline is set to visit with the Bears on Wednesday at Halas Hall, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio.

The 28-year-old veteran receiver is fresh off a disappointing 2014 campaign where he caught 39 catches for a career-low 474 yards and two touchdowns for the Dolphins. He fell behind Mike Wallace, Brandon Gibson and rising rookie Jarvis Landry and soon became the fourth option despite starting all 16 games.

Hartline would be a third or fourth option at best for the Bears if signed. He visited with the Browns on Tuesday and considering how thin Cleveland is at the receiver position he could have a better chance at more playing time there with new quarterback Josh McCown.

Florio reported that Hartline hopes to decide on his next team within the next 24 hours.

The 2009 fourth-round selection out of Ohio State was cut last week by Miami as he was set to earn $5.85 million in 2015. He has 298 catches for 4,243 yards and 12 receiving touchdowns in six seasons in the NFL.

He could ultimately wind up back with the Dolphins, the only team he’s known his entire career, but one thing is for sure Hartline is going to sign somewhere well before free agency officially opens up on March 10.

Some may view this possible signing by the Bears as another sign that soon to be 31-year-old receiver Brandon Marshall is on his way out of town. However, the Bears would be wise to add Hartline to their already solid receiving core with Marshall included.

Marshall’s 2015 base salary of $7.5 million becomes guaranteed on March 12, so the Bears’ decision on him with be coming soon. Cutting him with clear $3.95 million of cap space.

Hartline recorded back-to-back 1,000 yard receiving seasons (2012-13) as a starter for Miami. In 2012, with Marshall officially in Chicago, Hartline hauled in a Dolphins franchise-record 253 yards in a Week 4 matchup against Arizona.

For what it’s worth, Hartline posted a 4.52 40-yard-dash at the NFL Combine in 2009, so he isn’t the fastest receiver. However, he does have steady hands and solid route running ability.

He played 813 offensive snaps last year, but the production simply wasn’t there as the Dolphins offense struggled with their passing game down the stretch.

Alshon Jeffery is locked in as one of the starting two receivers with Marshall likely still a starter as well. That leaves third-year man Marquess Wilson, Josh Bellamy and kick returner Marc Mariani as the only other receivers on the current roster.

Hartline would add a veteran presence in the middle of the receiving core and compete directly with Wilson for the No. 3 spot. He should earn a yearly salary of around $3-4 million considering he is still only 28 and has nice value.

Do you think the signing of Hartline would signal the end of Marshall’s tenure with the Bears?

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