What the Recent Receiver Addition Reveals About the Bears' WR Strategy

Vince Carbonneau
May 31, 2024  (10:52)

Matt Eberflus in action
Photo credit: DAZN

It's a Great Time to Be an NFL Wide Receiver

On Thursday, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, coming off his third consecutive 1,000-yard season, signed a new three-year, $84.75 million deal, positioning him among the NFL's highest-paid receivers.
Waddle's contract places him fourth in annual value, trailing only the Eagles' A.J. Brown ($32 million), Detroit's Amon-Ra St. Brown ($30.02 million), and his teammate Tyreek Hill ($30 million). In terms of guaranteed money, he ranks third behind Brown ($84 million) and St. Brown ($77 million).
Although Waddle isn't even the top receiver on his own team, his explosive play has earned him a significant payday.
Why This Matters for the Bears
Ryan Poles and the Chicago Bears' front office are closely monitoring these rising receiver price tags, as they have two star receivers, DJ Moore and Keenan Allen, due for new contracts soon.
DJ Moore is in the second year of a $61.88 million extension he signed with the Carolina Panthers in 2022. With this extension kicking in last season, his first with the Bears, Moore will be up for a new deal after next year. The Bears might want to secure an extension before his value escalates further, especially with potential market resets from big names like Justin Jefferson, Ja'Marr Chase, and CeeDee Lamb.
Moore's performance, including a career-high 1,364 receiving yards, puts him on par with, if not above, players like St. Brown and Waddle, suggesting he could command a similar or higher salary at 27 years old.
Keenan Allen, meanwhile, is in the final year of his four-year, $80 million extension with the Chargers, earning a base salary of $18.1 million in 2024. While Allen has expressed interest in extending his contract with the Bears, recent large contracts for players like St. Brown and Waddle might entice him to explore free agency for one last substantial payday as he turns 33 next season.
Additionally, the Bears drafted rookie receiver Rome Odunze in the 2024 NFL Draft, potentially positioning him as a replacement for Allen. Allowing Allen to leave, investing in Moore, and utilizing Odunze on a cost-effective rookie deal for up to four more years could be a strategic move for Ryan Poles, unless Allen agrees to a significant pay cut to remain with the team.
Financial Strategy for the Future
Every dollar saved on Allen's contract could be allocated towards securing Moore and bolstering other areas of the team for a potential deep playoff run next season. Although it's early to predict Ryan Poles' exact strategy, the recent surge in receiver contracts suggests that only one of the Bears' veteran receivers may remain after this year.
Odunze will need to adapt quickly, and who knows, maybe we'll be discussing his second contract with the Bears soon enough.
MAY 31   |   44 ANSWERS
What the Recent Receiver Addition Reveals About the Bears' WR Strategy

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