Top 25 Bears in 2022: Pringle will start training camp as No. 2 wide receiver
We're counting down the Top 25 most important Bears for the 2022 season.
What makes one player more important than another? That's subjective, of course. But for our purposes it comes down to this: Are the Bears worse off if this player can't play? Does this player have untapped potential or past greatness to live up to? Is his story going to be one fans follow closely this season?
No. 16 Byron Pringle
Position: Wide receiver
NFL experience: Fifth season
Last year's ranking: N/A
Looking back: The Bears went into the offseason expecting to overhaul the wide receiver position. Fans might have wanted first-year general manager Ryan Poles to make a big splash in free agency at the position.
Instead, Byron Pringle became the highest-profile receiver that the Bears signed. Pringle, 28, signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the Bears in March. He had previously been Patrick Mahomes' No. 4 target on the Kansas City Chiefs behind Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Mecole Hardman.
Pringle signed with the Chiefs as an undrafted rookie out of Kansas State in 2018. Last season was his first chance to be a consistent contributor in the Chiefs' offense. He totaled 42 receptions for 568 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Not long after signing with the Bears, Pringle was arrested in Florida and charged with doing doughnuts in his car with a child in the back seat. Pringle pleaded not guilty and has a July 5 court date. The Bears have maintained that the legal problem wouldn't be an issue.
Looking forward: Pringle comes to Chicago with high expectations. Poles is betting that Pringle can emerge as a more than just a third receiver, like he was in Kansas City. On this roster, he should be the No. 2 behind Darnell Mooney.
The Bears had the worst passing game in football in 2021. The 2022 offense is going to look much different. It will likely put a higher emphasis on the run game. But the hope is that this will create opportunities in the play-action pass game.
If this passing attack is going to have any success, another receiver -- or preferably multiple -- needs to step up and make an impact. Mooney totaled more than 1,000 receiving yards, but Allen Robinson was the only other receiver to top 400 yards last year. While the Bears are optimistic about Mooney, he can't shoulder the load alone.
That's why Pringle has become so important to the 2022 Bears. A modern NFL offense needs multiple weapons at receiver. The Bears are hoping Pringle can be one.