Bears ‘Should Pursue’ Veteran WR to Add Depth for Training Camp

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Getty Hunter Renfrow has been floated as a potential free agent target for the Bears.

The Chicago Bears might have one of the best receiving trios in the NFL with DJ Moore, Keenan Allen and first-round rookie Rome Odunze in the fold for 2024. If they still want to shore up the depth behind their new big three, though, a former Las Vegas Raiders veteran could offer them a “low-cost, high-reward” option.

Bleacher Report’s Joe Tansey recently floated the possibility of the Bears signing 28-year-old Hunter Renfrow to a contract for the 2024 season, identifying him as one of three veteran free agents he believed the Bears “should pursue” before training camp.

The former Raiders veteran caught 103 passes for 1,038 yards and nine touchdowns in 2021, but he fell off over the next two seasons with just 61 receptions and 585 yards combined in 2022 and 2023. The Raiders cut him on March 13 for salary-cap relief.

Still, Renfrow has more career production than all three of the Bears’ backup receivers combined and could offer Chicago a more experienced slot receiver as the team looks to maximize new franchise quarterback Caleb Williams’ rookie season in 2024.

“Renfrow would only be needed for a few routes per game across the middle,” Tansey wrote on May 6. “If Tyler Scott or Velus Jones Jr. does not fit into the slot role, Renfrow could be worth the call to have on the roster for short-yardage situations.”

Would Hunter Renfrow Improve Bears’ WR Depth?

Cost would likely not be a roadblock for the Bears and Renfrow. Better options have signed for cheap in recent weeks following the NFL draft, including Tyler Boyd, who inked a one-year, $4.5 million contract with Tennessee on May 7. The Los Angeles Chargers also signed DJ Chark Jr. to a deal reported to be worth up to $5 million.

The Bears would likely not want to spend similar money on Renfrow, but they could give it serious consideration if he is more amenable to a deal closer to $2 million.

The bigger question, however, is whether an investment in Renfrow is necessary. The Bears lack experience behind their top three receivers, but Scott — a 2023 fourth-round selection — could be ready to take the next step after limited usage as a rookie. He has the speed to be a weapon in the slot (a 4.44-second time in the 40-yard dash) and the versatility to be an asset on jet sweeps, even if only used as a distraction for the offense.

The depth becomes more problematic behind Scott. The Bears re-signed veteran Dante Pettis in March after he missed the entire 2023 season with a preseason injury, but he underwhelmed as a seven-game starter in 2022 when they were knee-deep in a rebuild.

Meanwhile, Jones has offered virtually nothing offensively since the Bears drafted him in the third round of the 2022 draft. He has racked up 17 carries for 154 yards and a touchdown and 11 receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown in 26 career games.

If the Bears get through OTAs and feel that either Pettis or Jones is not going to cut it, perhaps signing someone such as Renfrow becomes more appealing to them.

Bears Could Seek Younger WRs Than Hunter Renfrow

Renfrow has his merits, but the Bears just landed their new franchise quarterback and could put an emphasis on finding more young talent to develop along with him in 2024. An example of this is UDFA signing John Jackson III, who is close with Williams and played with him at USC during his Heisman Trophy-winning season in 2022.

Jackson transferred to Nevada for 2023 and finished as their most productive receiver with 35 catches for 267 yards, but their passing offense barely eclipsed 2,000 yards, so it is difficult to predict how he will fare in competition with the Bears’ roster hopefuls.

There’s also the potential for more options to become available in late August after teams start finalizing their initial 53-man rosters for next season. As Jacob Infante of Windy City Gridiron pointed out, two of Williams’ former USC receivers — Brenden Rice and Tahj Washington — are both listed as third-stringers on their respective teams’ initial depth charts. If either misses the cut, the Bears may seek a reunion for Williams.

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