Can Jeffery replace Marshall as Bears' No. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery had 174 receptions for 2,554 yards and 17 touchdowns over the past two seasons.

    Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery had 174 receptions for 2,554 yards and 17 touchdowns over the past two seasons. Associated Press/Dec. 28, 2014

 
 
Posted4/27/2015 5:35 AM

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.

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