Bears Nab Speedy WR From NFC North Rival

Ihmir Smith-Marsette

Getty Ihmir Smith-Marsette #15 of the Minnesota Vikings reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Chicago Bears during the third quarter at Soldier Field on December 20, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.

One day after being waived by the Minnesota Vikings, wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette is being signed by the Chicago Bears.

NFL insider Tom Pelissero was first to report the news.

After placing wide receivers Tajae Sharpe and N’Keal Harry on injured reserve, the Bears were set to add another player to their 53-man roster. Smith-Marsette looks to be it — and if he impresses in Harry’s absence, he’ll have a chance to carve out a role for himself on a wide receiver-needy team.

A fifth-round draft pick for the Vikings in 2021 out of the University of Iowa, Smith-Marsette played in eight games as a rookie, finishing with five catches on six targets for 116 yards and two touchdowns — both of were scored against the Bears. He also returned four punts for 83 yards (20.8 yards per return). He’ll be reunited with Bears’ current quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko, who held the same role in Minnesota last season.

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Smith-Marsette Should Get Opportunity in Chicago He Didn’t Get in Minnesota

At Iowa, the young wideout was a bit of a dual threat, amassing 110 receptions for 1,615 yards and 14 touchdowns, while also rushing the ball 34 times for 274 yards and four scores in 44 games.

After getting used sparingly as a rookie, Smith-Marsette was set to be Minnesota’s No. 4 wide receiver this year, but that changed when the team traded for former Philadelphia Eagles wideout Jalen Reagor. With a loaded depth chart that includes the likes of Reagor, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, K.J. Osborn and Jalen Nailor, there was simply no room left for Smith-Marsette.

Chicago’s WRs room isn’t near as well-stocked. Behind top wide receiver Darnell Mooney, there’s third-round rookie Velus Jones Jr., who played in just one of the team’s three preseason games due to an undisclosed injury, Byron Pringle, who has also missed the entire preseason due to injury, and Equanimeous St. Brown, who has just 10 career starts.

Behind them, there’s Harry, who is set to miss at least four games, and Dante Pettis, who has also had recent injury issues. Clearly, Smith-Marsette will get opportunities. We’ll see what he does with them.

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Smith-Marsette Adds Speed to Bears WR Room

The 6-foot, 185-pound Smith-Marsette ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds coming out of college in 2021, so he’ll bring some nice speed to Chicago’s receivers corps.

He also has good hands, and a very high reception percentage. During the 2022 preseason, Smith-Marsette caught 10 passes on 11 targets for 121 yards, according to PFF. He also had a very impressive 158.3 passer rating when targeted last year, albeit in limited opportunities, and displayed his abilities as a deep threat in the Vikings’ regular season finale in Chicago:

The Bears may use Smith-Marsette’s speed on punt returns, as well, which is something he did well in college and continued to do during the 2022 preseason.

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