Hours after Alshon Jeffery signed in Philadelphia, the Bears made a move to add someone else.
That player is former Pittsburgh speedster Markus Wheaton. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Bears have reached an agreement with the receiver.
The 5’11”, 189-pounder has appeared in 47 games, making 22 starts in four NFL seasons. In his time with the Steelers, he totaled 107 catches for 1,508 yards and eight touchdowns.
Wheaton, a 2013 third round pick out Oregon State rarely saw the field the rookie. But from 2014-15, he recorded 97 catches, 1,393 yards and seven touchdowns.
He battled a right shoulder all year last season dating back to off-season workout. Hence why Wheaton made it through three games with two starts as he caught four passes for 51 yards and a touchdown.
Dating back two seasons ago, he had his best season with 44 grabs for 749 yards and five touchdowns. He averaged 17.0 yards per catch. His nine-catch, 201-yard performance against Seattle was eye opening.
Wheaton fell out of favor in Pittsburgh, but he’s still young and his athleticism and versatility is worth a look. He ran a 4.45 40-yard-dash at the 2013 NFL Combine which helped him find a home in the third round.
His ability on kickoffs can help the Bears as well. Wheaton has 27 career returns for 636 yards (23.5 YPR). He can line up in the slot or outside on offense as he did both in his tenure with the Steelers.
The Bears’ receivers room looks like this: Kevin White, Cameron Meredith, Eddie Royal, Daniel Braverman, Josh Bellamy, Dres Anderson and Rueben Randle (futures deal).
At the very least, Wheaton will provide competition for the position. With Royal likely being cut soon due to health issues, Wheaton could take over in the slot.
The Bears need more help at wideout, but I like Wheaton’s ability to stretch the field. He won’t come in and be a stud, but at the very least he could be someone the Bears hoped Marquess Wilson would be, a reliable target. Plus, he’s still young and could take over a key special teams role as a return man.
White has appeared in four games in two seasons, Meredith is still coming into his own at receiver. After that, there isn’t much there. So, why not take a chance on a guy like Wheaton at this point?
Tight end help
Former Miami tight end Dion Sims inked a deal with the Bears, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The 2013 fourth round out of Michigan State is fresh off a 2016 campaign where he caught 26 passes for 256 yards and four touchdowns (a career-high).
He appeared in 56 games with 22 starts. He has 74 receptions for 699 yards and eight touchdowns for his career. His ability to be a reliable in-line blocker is what the Bears likely signed him for. He’ll compete for snaps with starter Zach Miller, pass catcher Daniel Brown and backups Justin Perillo and MyCole Pruitt.
Thoughts on the Bears’ moves? Comment below.