GM: Loss of Knox creates need at WR

INDIANAPOLIS -- Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery admitted Thursday at the NFL scouting combine the loss of receiver Johnny Knox places the club in the position of needing to add at the position.

"Anytime you lose a player of that quality, and that kind of speed, it does impact you," Emery said. "To say (it does) not would be silly."

The Bears terminated Knox's contract on Feb. 12 in part because of his inability to sufficiently recover from a fractured vertebra that sidelined him for the entire 2012 season. Knox had started in 27 of 45 games for the Bears from 2009-11, catching 133 passes for 2,214 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Shortly after being released, Knox decided to retire.

"Yes, it does impact us," Emery said. "We'll look in all avenues in terms of finding somebody that can add to that mix at receiver."

The Bears certainly need to explore that possibility, judging from the numbers posted by the receiving corps. Brandon Marshall caught a team-high 118 passes for 1,508 yards and 11 touchdowns. While Marshall established Bears single-season records in receptions and yardage, the other receivers languished in the background.

Running back Matt Forte caught more passes (44) than every Bears receiver outside of Marshall. The team's next leading receiver, Earl Bennett, caught 29 passes, but missed four games.

While the Bears could use a speed receiver opposite Marshall, which would diminish opponents' ability to consistently double the team's top receiver, Emery said the goal "more specifically (is) to find the best player that can help us."

It's unlikely the Bears can accomplish that through free agency, given their cap situation ($8.176 million) and the fact the salary cap in 2013 isn't expected to grow much from 2012's cap of $120.6 million. Chicago's best shot at adding another target for quarterback Jay Cutler appears at this point to be through the draft.

"I'm enthused about our opportunities between the UFA (unrestricted free agent) market, street free agents, the draft, and college free agents to add talent base to our team, and along with this new staff to build something that's very good," Emery said.