Can Jeffery replace Marshall as Bears' No. 1
The Bears couldn't wait to get rid of five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall and his me-first attitude. That's why they peddled him to the New York Jets along with a seventh-round pick and accepted just a fifth-rounder in return.
Now they have to replace him -- and hope Alshon Jeffery can handle the responsibility of being the No. 1 receiver. Jeffery has put up No. 1-type numbers the past two seasons: a total of 174 receptions for 2,554 yards and 17 touchdowns. But that was with Marshall around to share the load.
Eddie Royal was signed in free agency for $15 million over three years, including $10 million guaranteed. That seems a bit much given Royal's seven-year career averages of 48 catches, 536 yards and 4 touchdowns, But the 5-foot-10, 185-pound is fresh off the second-best season of his career -- 62 receptions, 778 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Although Royal is nothing like the 6-4, 230-pound Marshall (61 catches, 721 yards, 8 touchdowns in an injury-plagued season) as a receiver, their numbers last season were eerily similar. That's part of the attraction of Royal; he gives the Bears something they've lacked, a quick slot receiver with good speed.
For now, there isn't much depth, although Marquess Wilson is a promising player who had 17 catches for 140 yards last season in seven games after returning from a fractured clavicle. Josh Morgan added 10 catches for 70 yards in 2014.
That's a long way from what Marshall gave the Bears -- at least on the field. In the two seasons before last year, he caught 218 passes for 2,803 yards and 23 touchdowns.
That's a lot of slack to pick up.