The Bears had what I would call a decent day yesterday as free agency opened at 3PM. One of the more interesting signings was that of former Steelers wide receiver Marcus Wheaton.
Wheaton is exactly the kind of player that general manager Ryan Pace likes to sign. He’s a 26 year old player coming off of his rookie deal who has shown that he’s a good player but who still has upside. Wheaton had his best season in 2015 when he had 44 receptions for 749 yards and five touchdowns.
But Wheaton shouldn’t be seen as an Alshon Jeffery replacement. He has good speed and he played primarily on the outside but he was a number three receiver for the Steelers. As it stands, the Bears probably hope Kevin White can stay healthy this year and replace some of Jeffery’s production (or lack there of). They certainly are hoping he will develop into the guy they thought he’d be when they drafted him.
But Wheaton at 5’11”, though speedy, won’t be Jeffery. If he’s a replacement for anyone, its probably Eddie Royal, who s supposed to earn a base salary of $5 million in 2017. With Wheaton in the fold, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Royal was cut. Its a move that’s been expected for some time and is probably only being held up by the fact that he has to pass a physical first. Royal had surgery in December to repair a toe injury.