Last week, the Bears cut wide receiver Earl Bennett in a cost-cutting move. Since his salary was going to count $2.45 million against the salary cap, the team asked him if he would take a pay cut. Bennett refused, so the Bears decided to part ways and cut him.
The cut leaves the Bears with an opening at the third wide receiver. Second-year player Marquess Wilson has a great opportunity to show what he has.
The 6-4 Wilson would add some more size to an already big receiving corps. He was a seventh round pick last year, a pick some thought of as a high value at that part of the draft.
Wilson has been down in Florida working with Brandon Marshall and some of the other offensive players, including Jay Cutler. Working out with Marshall worked wonders for Alshon Jeffery, who went from having an injury-riddled rookie season to recording 1,421 yards and averaging 16 yards per carry to becoming a Pro Bowler in his second season.
No one is saying Wilson will have the same transformation. The offense is run through Marshall, Jeffery, Matt Forte, and Martellus Bennett, so if Wilson has those same great numbers then someone got seriously hurt.
Having Wilson on the field can stretch the defense. He has good speed, and wide receivers coach Mike Groh was impressed last season with his route-running and his ability to elude defensive backs.
Last season, Bennett only had 32 receptions, but he was on the field for over 51% of the snaps, so being able to attract some attention will open things up for Marshall and Jeffery.
Coach Marc Trestman has been impressed with Wilson so far, but he isn’t ready to hand anything over to him just yet.
“I think he showed that we can work with him and develop him. He’s got the football intelligence that we’re looking for and the ability to be flexible within the offense. He was consistent. So we’ll see how it goes. We’re not anointing people at this point in time. He’s going to have a chance to compete and be a part of what we do after Alshon and Brandon…We’ve got a long way to go but we like Wilson and we’re excited about him to develop him and work him.” -Marc Trestman on Marquess Wilson
The Bears signed Domenik Hixon this offseason, and if Wilson cannot make the jump this season, Hixon has the experience to step in and be a good fallback option. The Bears are hoping that doesn’t happen.
Adding Wilson can make this productive offense even better. By working out with Cutler and Marshall, his chances of success only get better. It will be interesting to see how he uses everything he learns and put them to good use on the field and into the playoffs.