The Chicago Bears off-season plans to improve their roster for the 2018 season took a blow when the Miami Dolphins chose to use the franchise tag on wide receiver Jarvis Landry.
Landry was expected to be the most-sought after wide receiver in free agency this off-season. With Landry and now Allen Robinson possibly being off the market, the team could look in-house to improve the position.
Wide receiver Dontrelle Inman, who was with the team for the second half of the 2017 season, could be a viable option to be brought back for the 2018 season. The Bears traded a seventh round pick to the Los Angeles Chargers for Inman due to the lack of production at the wide receiver position during the first half of the season. Inman gave the team some size at the position and a reliable weapon for rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and could do the same in 2018.
Inmann appeared in eight games and caught 23 passes for 334 yards while learning the offense on the fly and having no other receiver to help take coverage off him.
In his first three games with the Bears, he caught 13 passes for 195 yards. Once seen as the Bears biggest threat at wide receiver, Inman caught just three passes over the next three games as opponents knew Trubisky’s was targeting him. It wasn’t until the season finale where he flashed again catching five passes for 94 yards posting his best game of the season.
With several big names off the board for free agency, the Bears now may have to pay more to second-tier talented wide receivers to not end up empty-handed. Sammy Watkins will be the wide receiver to garner the most attention once free agency starts on March 14th. To save money and not focus solely on a big free agency splash, the Bears may be smart to piece together at wide receiver.
New head coach Matt Nagy is familiar with Inman has he coached against the Chargers during his time on the Kansas City Chiefs staff, and could develop a game plan towards his strength. Re-signing Inman, signing former Chief Albert Wilson, and finding a receiver early in the draft could be the Bears smartest move financially and roster wise.
Pairing Trubisky with a big play wide receiver was a need by shared with all involved with the bears, but now it is up to the team to come up with the next big plan. Re-signing Inman could be a safe gamble as he is proven, and could return to his 2016 form now healthy and under a new coach. Teams targeting free agents in the NFL never goes at planned, but it is the good organizations that still succeed when those plans change.