We've spent the better part of two years discussing whether the Chicago Bears' receiving corps is sufficient or if it needs a talent influx. Most recently, we suggested the Bears aren't likely to prioritize a major acquisition via veteran free agency or the draft.
With that said, Bears coach Lovie Smith was as open as I've ever heard him about seeking a so-called "big" receiver to complement his current trio of Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett and Devin Hester. Asked about it this week at the NFL owners meeting, Smith said: "That's a fair question."
He added: "Most of our guys ... they are smaller receivers, so to have a little bit of a different flavor wouldn't be a bad idea. But as much as anything, you're trying to add a guy that can play ball. It doesn't fill your needs just adding a big guy. I thought our guys did a good job of blocking, and ... you could always make the case for having a bigger guy to block a little bit more. But it's more [being a good player] to me."
Many of you would be quick to point out the Bears have spent the past two years burying a receiver who seemingly fits the criteria. Devin Aromashodu is listed at 6-foot-2 and 201 pounds, but he doesn't appear to be a part of the Bears' future. They have signed 6-foot-4 Andy Fantuz from the CFL, but as it stands now, all of their proven receivers are shorter than 6 feet. Here are their heights as measured at the scouting combine the year they were drafted:
Johnny Knox: 5-11 1/4
Earl Bennett: 5-11 1/4
Devin Hester: 5-10 1/4
I agree with Smith in the sense that "taller" doesn't necessarily mean "better." But the so-called "go-up-and-get-it" play has become a significant part of the NFL, especially in the red zone. Having a player who can physically beat a cornerback to the ball at its highest point, or wrestle his way to a catch, is a valuable asset that can be effective as a threat even if it doesn't materialize often in reality.
Yes, the Bears can use tight end Greg Olsen in many of those situations. But the Bears don't have the kind of options the Minnesota Vikings have had with 6-foot-4 receiver Sidney Rice, or the Detroit Lions have with 6-foot-5 Calvin Johnson, or even the New York Jets with 6-foot-3 Braylon Edwards.
Rice and Edwards have expiring contracts. I'm not suggesting the Bears should pursue either one. But, if nothing else, I appreciate that Smith recognizes that type of player is missing from his roster.