Profootballtalk.com first reported the visit.
Released by the Miami Dolphins to clear cap space, Hartline caught 39 passes for 474 yards last season and scored a pair of touchdowns. A fourth-round pick in 2009, Hartline's role gradually shrunk last season to the No. 4 option in the team’s passing game.
So despite speculation regarding the uncertain status of Bears receiver Brandon Marshall, the team’s interest in Hartline doesn’t appear to mean it is looking to replace Marshall, who prior to an injury-riddled 2014 campaign put together seven consecutive seasons in which he gained at least 1,000 yards receiving.
The Bears likely view Hartline as a potential option in the slot.
Hartline reportedly visited the Cleveland Browns on Tuesday, but could wind up re-signing with Miami as team owner Steve Ross reportedly called the receiver shortly after his release. A source said the Dolphins remain interested. So Hartline could be using his free-agent visits to determine his value on the open market.
Hartline started all 16 games for the Dolphins in 2014, yet produced the fewest receiving yards (474) of his career after putting together back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2012 and 2013.
In six seasons with the Dolphins, Hartline has 298 receptions for 4,243 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Interestingly, Hartline and Marshall have maintained a close relationship since the latter joined the Bears. They were teammates for two seasons in Miami (2010-11).
So although it’s apparent the Bears are interested in Hartline, the team could also be using the free-agent visit to glean more information about Marshall.
Remember, Bears general manager Ryan Pace and coach John Fox held off on committing to Marshall for the 2015 season when asked last month at the NFL combine about the receiver, who is due $7.5 million next season in base salary and counts $9.575 million against the cap.
Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, who enters the final year of his deal in 2015, are tied for ninth in the NFL with the most 100-yard receiving games (eight) in the NFL since 2013.
It’s likely that the Bears view Hartline as a potential secondary target as former seventh-round pick Marquess Wilson, after a training-camp injury, struggled during a 2014 season that was supposed to be his breakout year.
Wilson played in seven games last season with six starts, but generated just 17 receptions for 140 yards and a touchdown.