Chicago Bears: Ryan Pace is being smart with the wide receiver room

Chicago Bears (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bears just added another veteran wide receiver to the Bears’ roster in Damiere Byrd, which is a smart and self-aware move by general manager Ryan Pace.

The Chicago Bears need help with the wide receiver position ahead of 2021.

The Bears’ signing of Damiere Byrd, 27, is an excellent one. The veteran wide receiver had a breakout season last year with the New England Patriots, catching 47 balls for 604 yards and one touchdown.

Byrd is an excellent route-runner and is efficient at creating space during broken plays. His footwork and agility could use some work but he is a smart player. To recap, alongside Byrd, the Bears wide-receiver room now looks like Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, Marquise Goodwin, Anthony Miller, Riley Ridley, and Dazz Newsome as the likely players.

This move may cause cuts to players like Anthony Miller or Riley Ridley off of the roster, considering they have not contributed much in their time in Chicago. The fact that Charles Leno was just released after the Bears took two high-profile linemen from the draft could also help.

Why was the move for Byrd and Goodwin solid for the Bears?

Let’s break down the history of free agency vs. the draft for general manager Ryan Pace’s tenure with the Chicago Bears.

From the draft, the Bears have taken these receivers since 2015 (Pace’s first draft).

  • 2015 — Kevin White (first round)
  • 2016 — Danny Braverman (seventh round)
  • 2018 — Anthony Miller (second round) and Javon Wims (seventh round)
  • 2019 — Riley Ridley (fourth round)
  • 2020 — Darnell Mooney (fifth round)
  • 2021 — Dazz Newsome (sixth round)

See the pattern? Outside of Mooney’s fantastic rookie season with the Bears, Pace’s history of drafting wide receivers is terrible. In fact, his tight end picks are no better. Before the drafting of Cole Kmet in 2020, Pace took Adam Shaheen in the second round of the 2017 draft.

From the free agency, Pace has recruited and signed these receivers to the team.

  • 2015 — Eddie Royal
  • 2017 — Markus Wheaton
  • 2018 — Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel
  • 2020 — Marquise Goodwin and Damiere Byrd

While Royal and Wheaton could be argued as misses for Pace, the others are great signings. Obviously, Robinson was a big reason that Pace was named executive of the year in 2018. Gabriel combined for over 600 yards and six touchdowns in his two years with the Bears.

Now, next season will be time to see what Byrd and Goodwin will have to offer the Bears’ wide receiver room. Pace has done a great job by dabbling with wide receivers from the draft with Dazz Newsome on day three of the draft and Khalil McCain as an undrafted free agent.

The experienced receivers (Goodwin and Byrd) will provide great pieces to Nagy’s offense, which prefers speedy route runners that can play vertical threats. Also, and possibly, more importantly, they will be key in the development of Justin Fields as he attempts to take over the starting job as soon as possible.

The only question now is — how will head coach Matt Nagy respond?

As I mentioned before in my Bears’ coverage, Ryan Pace has done his job by constructing an offensive-minded roster to appease the Bears’ troubles.

He drafted a possible franchise quarterback, aggressive offensive linemen, brought in backup running backs for last season’s short-handed David Montgomery, and added veteran depth to the wide receiver room. A chef’s kiss of roster building for Pace.

Next. Chicago Bears: Post-2021 NFL Draft 53-man roster projection. dark

Now, Matt Nagy has plenty of options to construct his offense around Justin Fields. The receivers add great depth to route-running, isolation, and passing concepts far beyond what the Bears ever dreamed possible. The ball is in your court, Coach Nagy.