When Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields drops back to pass this season, he'll be throwing to…
Um, what about…
Who's that again?
No one really knows, which is a problem. A big problem. The Bears must add to their wide receiver room, especially after the injury to N'Keal Harry.
NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported Harry underwent tightrope ankle surgery Thursday, which will likely cost him eight weeks. Harry isn't a proven commodity after being traded by the New England Patriots because he was a first-round disappointment, but he at least presented depth and some potential.
Darnell Mooney is an excellent, young target. The 24-year-old is coming off his first 1,000-yard campaign with the chance to build on a strong sophomore performance. But today's game is predicated on 11 personnel. Last season, teams had at least three wide receivers on the field for 62 percent of the league's total snaps, according to Sharp Football's Warren Sharp.
In what appears to be offseason malpractice, Chicago's new regime of first-time general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus didn't prioritize building the offense around their supposed franchise quarterback.
Instead, the team's top two draft picks addressed the secondary. The Bears passed on wide receivers Wan'Dale Robinson, Tyquan Thornton, George Pickens, Alec Pierce and Skyy Moore to draft cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker. In a vacuum, Poles drafted two quality players. At the same time, those receivers are all performing well during training camp and could provide instant offense to their respective teams.
The Bears waited until the third round to snag Velus Jones Jr., traded for Harry and signed Byron Pringle as a free agent. Even the latter move was overshadowed by the team's biggest offseason signing of defensive lineman Justin Jones. Pringle inked a one-year, $4.1 million prove-it deal. Besides, he's dealing with a quad injury and hasn't practiced this week.
Meanwhile, Fields is holding up his end of the bargain. According to reporter Jordan Schultz, the staff, including offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, have been "blown away" by their quarterback. A source told Schultz: "His mechanics have improved. He's in great shape. He works at it and he really cares. Luke loves him."
The quarterback may be showing drastic improvement, but it'll be for naught if he lacks the weapons to orchestrate the offense.
Opportunities still exist to improve Fields' surrounding cast. The Bears took this approach when they signed left tackle Riley Reiff and guard Michael Schofield at the start of training camp. They can do so again by bringing in a veteran wide receiver (or two) to provide a competent passing attack. Four possibilities jump to the forefront.
Odell Beckham Jr.
Some may view the acquisition of a Odell Beckham Jr. as a pipe dream. Maybe it is. He's a veteran who likely wants to play for a winning franchise. But he has a Super Bowl ring after the Los Angeles Rams' run to a championship, and the Bears have three factors working in their favor: money, market and targets.
The Bears have one of the league's highest amounts of salary-cap space at $15.7 million, per Spotrac. Next year, Chicago owns a whopping $89.2 million in cap space—the most of any team by $40 million—before any further moves are made. Beckham can get the type of deal he wants after the Rams supposedly lowballed him earlier this year while giving the Bears a true No. 1 wide receiver.
Chicago remains the nation's third-biggest media market (after Beckham previously played in the top two) with a passionate fanbase.
Granted, Beckham won't be ready for the start of the regular season after suffering a torn ACL in Super Bowl LVI. However, the Bears can invest now. In doing so, they're guaranteeing a top target for Fields and someone who dictates coverages. A signing won't come cheap, but Chicago has the means to get it done and plenty of wiggle room to continue the rebuild into next offseason.