With Wilson expected to miss the next month recovering from a fractured clavicle, the Bears made the move to free up a spot on the active roster, which allowed them to sign Hayden. By placing Wilson on the injured reserve with a designation to return, the receiver won't be able to participate in practice until Week 7, and he won't be eligible to play until Nov. 9, when the Bears travel to Green Bay coming off their bye week.
A second-year veteran, Wilson played in 10 games with one start last season, catching two passes for 13 yards.
Wilson entered the offseason as the team's choice to win the No. 3 receiver's job, but he suffered a fractured clavicle diving for a pass during training camp.
So the team's move Tuesday didn't come as a surprise despite Bears coach Marc Trestman saying Tuesday that the team wanted to make a decision on Wilson after Wednesday's workout at Halas Hall.
League rules allow every team in the NFL to use the IR with designation to return only once per year. The Bears used their short-term IR designation in 2013 on Charles Tillman after he suffered a triceps injury during a November loss to the Detroit Lions.
Making the club's move easier Wednesday was likely the presence of veteran Santonio Holmes, who is now expected to take on the No. 3 role. With the Bears now in game-planning mode in preparation for Sunday's opener against Buffalo, the playbook will be narrowed enough for Holmes to have a better opportunity to grasp the aspects of the offense the team will utilize against the Bills.
Hayden, meanwhile, returns after the Bears severed ties during final cuts to the 53-man roster.