Bears need to get Cutler-worthy targets down field

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler probably would not admit it, but his receivers in Chicago have been subpar, to say the least, through his first three seasons in the Windy City.

No thanks to former general manager Jerry Angelo, the Bears have been without a major threat at wide receiver for ages, with Marty Booker as the Bears’ last 1,000-yard receiver in 2002.

The 2011 season was no different. Underpaid running back Matt Forte, who has led the Bears in receptions the past two seasons, was used to fill the void left by an inadequate receiving corp.

Angelo’s sorry excuse for aids to Cutler included a handful of speedy, complementary receivers (see Devin Hester and Johnny Knox) and Sam Hurd, who caught more felonies than passes in Chicago.

Let’s not forget about Roy Williams either, whom Angelo paid nearly $2.5 million last season. Williams was a Pro-Bowl wideout in 2006, but his play since then can be best described by Waka Flocka and Roscoe Dash’s song “No Hands.”

Now, newly hired GM Phil Emery is in charge of picking up the pieces and getting the Bears in position to go back to the Super Bowl. It is obvious the Bears are in need of more offensive help around Cutler and Forte, who cannot do it alone.

The hiring of quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, who coached Cutler for three seasons in Denver, should help the young gunslinger. Cutler said that Bates has been key in his development, aiding him to his best statistical season in 2008, with over 4,500 yards passing and 25 touchdowns.

The Bears hope for some of the same, but Bates is not bringing 6-foot-4 target Brandon Marshall with him. Marshall and Cutler were brilliant together in their three seasons in Denver, but the Bears simply don’t have a No. 1 receiver.

That is why, when free agency begins on March 13, acquiring a big name at wide receiver should be the Bears’ top priority. There are plenty of options to choose from.

Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson will likely become a free agent next month, as a return to San Diego appears unlikely. Jackson has provided his share of drama through the past two seasons, going against Ron Burgundy’s advice to “stay classy.”

Jackson sat out 11 games in 2010 over a contract dispute, but his production when on the field speaks for itself. Jackson put up more than 1,100 yards receiving in 2011, with nine TD’s. Bears fans would certainly love to see a player of Jackson’s caliber suit up with Cutler in 2012.

I’m sure Cutler would not mind either. What better way to get back at his rival Philip Rivers than to take his best receiver and lead the Bears deep into the playoffs?

Another viable option in the pool of free agents is Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne. With the help of Peyton Manning, Wayne has been one of the league’s best through the past eight years. Even with the likes of Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky throwing him the ball last season, Wayne still managed to reel in more than 960 yards receiving, which exceeded everyone on the Bears’ roster.

Wayne would likely be interested in playing with Cutler, who has one of the biggest arms in the NFL. He would also make a great deal of sense on the Bears’ side. While Wayne is 33-years-old, he is far from being washed up. Putting him in a Bears uniform would give Cutler a badly needed go-to guy, opening things up for the speed demons in Knox and Hester.

Recently unretired veteran Randy Moss said he wants to play in the NFL in 2012. Moss sat out all of last year after losing all football relevance in 2010. Moss was traded by the New England Patriots to the Minnesota Vikings after four games in 2010. After failing to succeed with Brett Favre, the Vikings cut Moss less than a month after the trade.

Moss, who is undeniably a first-ballot Hall of Famer, says he is motivated and ready to play in the upcoming season. Former teammate and current ESPN analyst Cris Carter said that he thinks New England and Chicago would be the best place for Moss in 2012.

However, Carter also pointed out one of the problems with signing Moss. While most 35-year-old wide receivers would be concerned about losing a step, Carter said Moss could hop out of bed and run a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash.

“The one thing you have to address with Randy Moss is not a conditioning thing,” Carter said. “It’s not an age thing. It needs to be addressed. I believe it’s the elephant in the room. It’s that thing called ‘quit.’”

Carter said, while Moss is as talented as they come, he has never seen a professional athlete with so much quit in him. Potential suitors, like the Bears, will have to weigh this concern, but there is no doubt a hungry Moss would upgrade Cutler’s cast of characters.

While there is no telling for sure what you would get out of Moss, he is just three years removed from an output of more than 1,200 yards and 13 TD’s in 2009. The Bears are in dire need of a big target and an incentives-based contract for Moss could be just what the doctor ordered.

With Aaron Rodgers and the ever-talented Packers up north, the Bears will be in constant competition with them through the remainder of the decade. Rodgers has a set of great receivers. If the Bears want any hope of keeping pace, they need to get Cutler one as well.

_Derek is a junior in Media. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @FeelDaPaign._