Bears Floated as Option for $12 Million WR on ‘Chopping Block’

Darius Slayton Bears Trade Signing Target Chicago Bears News

Getty New York Giants wide reeceiver Darius Slayton.

The Chicago Bears could potentially use their No. 9 overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft to select one of the top receivers in the class and elevate their receiving corps for next season. Should they emerge from the draft still seeking depth at the position, though, the New York Giants’ cut pile could have an option for them.

Darius Slayton, a 2019 second-round pick, could be on his last legs with the Giants if they use their favorable first-round draft position — No. 6 overall — to take one of the receivers for themselves. Both’s Chad Reuter and ESPN’s Mel Kiper projected the Giants to take LSU’s Malik Nabers with the sixth pick. In both mocks, Washington’s Rome Odunze was also still available, highlighting New York’s opportunity to upgrade.

Adding either rookie would increase the Giants’ motivation to move on from Slayton. Not only would cutting him create $3.8 million in salary-cap savings, but they also have two more recent draft picks — Jalin Hyatt and Wan’Dale Robinson — capable of picking up more reps alongside a first-round rookie during the 2024 season.

In the event Slayton becomes a free agent, the Bears might have an opportunity to add him on the cheap. Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox even floated their name in his April 9 article about notable veterans who could be on the post-draft “chopping block.”

“Slayton wouldn’t be a top target in almost any other offensive lineup,” Knox wrote. “However, he’d be a fine complementary option for a team that lacks overall depth at the position like the Chicago Bears, Pittsburgh Steelers or Arizona Cardinals.”

Darius Slayton Would Offer Bears Affordable Depth

Slayton has not always lived up to expectations as a former second-round pick. Despite having opportunities to be the No. 1 receiver in the Giants’ offense, he has struggled to maintain the level of efficiency demanded of a top pass-catcher. He also had a problem with drops, letting 18 passes slip through his fingers in three seasons (2020-22) before buckling down and getting the issue more under control during the 2023 season.

That said, Slayton is coming off one of his best seasons for the Giants. He caught 50 of his 79 targets (second-highest career catch percentage of 63.3%) and finished with a career-high 770 yards along with four touchdowns. While he did have issues with winning contested catches (two of 11), he capitalized on a high percentage of snaps in the slot and improved his yard-after-catch average (6.0) on a career-most 584 snaps.

Even if the Bears do draft a wide receiver at No. 9, Slayton might not be a bad option for them if the Giants ultimately release him instead of trying to trade him. Chicago would have zero reason to trade for Slayton and his $12 million contract. But if he is cut and they can negotiate new terms for the 2024 season, they might be willing to take a one-year flier on him as a No. 4 or rotational piece to help safeguard them from injuries.

Bears Could Looking for Growth From 2023 Rookie

The Bears have improved their receiving corps for the 2024 season. While they have lost Darnell Mooney and Equanimeous St. Brown (still available), they traded for six-time Pro Bowl talent Keenan Allen and brought back veteran Dante Pettis for depth. They are also in a good position to add another dynamic pass-catcher in the draft, whether they land one at No. 9 or find a way to get another in the later rounds.

What the Bears do next, though, could say a lot about their expectations for Tyler Scott.

Scott, a 2023 fourth-round pick, had limited opportunities to shine as a rookie and did not always make the most of them. He caught 17 of his 31 targets for 168 yards and zero touchdowns over his 257 receiving snaps, but he also fumbled once and dropped three passes, including a would-be touchdown in the win over Atlanta in Week 17. His speed came through, but his ball tracking and contact balance sometimes missed the mark.

Still, the Bears have plenty of reason to remain optimistic with Scott. He must improve his contact balance and work on being more reliable at tracking the ball — as he was in college at Cincinnati — but his speed is evident. With a moderate jump in his second season, he could seize the No. 3 role in the slot and complement DJ Moore and Allen.

The telling sign will be how the Bears address their receiver position further. Chicago taking a rookie receiver at No. 9 would not spell doom for Scott, but another addition — such as someone like Darius Slayton — would indicate a lack of faith in his progress.

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