4 veteran WRs that could become cap casualties for the Bears
The Chicago Bears have plenty of cash and will be looking to improve their position after last season’s worst record. The Bears have one position that is worth mentioning: wide receiver. Questions remain about this position even though Chase Claypool was traded to the Bears by the Pittsburgh Steelers last November.
Claypool and Darnell Moooney are currently the top weapons. Velus Jones Jr. and Equanimeous Brown Jr. are role players. They could be looking for another veteran receiver but this player may not be available yet.
Recent reports indicated that speculation about one of these players was rife. Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen could be moved due to his contract. DeAndre Holmes, an Arizona Cardinals veteran, has been mentioned earlier in this year as another potential candidate. potential trade or cut candidate Similar reasons.
But there are other veteran players who are candidates to be released due to cap concerns that could be appealing to the Bears that aren’t yet being talked about. The Bears might be interested in four more receivers who could become cap casualties.
1. Tyler Boyd
USA Today Sports
2022 stats: 58 receptions, 762 yard, 5 touchdowns
2023 cap hit: $10.1 Million
2023 dead cap hit: $1.4 million
Cap savings of 2023 $8.9 Million
The Cincinnati Bengals are right in the middle of their competitive window, with young stars such as Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins anchoring an explosive passing offense. Tyler Boyd, their third wide receiver, has been a reliable weapon. He has accumulated over 700 receiving yards and at most four touchdowns each of the past five seasons. However, Burrow and Higgins are expected to sign long-term contracts. The Bengals could be looking to save money this offseason by letting Boyd go ahead of his final year.
Cincinnati isn’t exactly hurting for cash at the moment. Over the Cap says they are the fifth largest space provider with more than $35million. But with looming extensions and needs elsewhere, there’s a chance Boyd sees himself on the way out. This is especially true when you consider that the Bengals will only consume $1.4 million in dead caps while saving $8.9million. If he becomes available, he could be a solid slot receiver for Bears with plenty tread left on the tires. At this point, it is likely that the Bengals will keep him in 2023 to have another shot at a Super Bowl run.
2. Adam Thielen
Quinn Harris – USA TODAY Sports
2022 stats: 70 receptions, 716 yards and 6 touchdowns
2023 cap hit: $19.9 Million
2023 dead cap hit: $6.5 million (post-June 1)
Cap savings of 2023 $13.4 million (post-June 1)
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen has been regarded as one the most dangerous possession receivers from 2016-2021. Thielen, a former undrafted-free agent, worked his way up to the top of the depth chart and was a key player in the Vikings’ offense. He earned multiple Pro Bowl trips, with over 900 receiving yards and double-digit touchdowns in 2020-2021. Thielen was forced to resign as WR2 this season.
K.J. Osborn and T.J. Hockenson cut into Thielen’s production and the 32-year old wasn’t nearly as involved as he was in the past. His 700 receiving yards were comparable to his 2021 totals but his touchdowns numbers are significantly lower than the previous season. For a player set to count $19 million against the cap in 2023, that’s probably not good enough. A post-June 1st cut by Thielen would save $13.4 million for the Vikings after he restructured his contract last offseason.
Thielen will be the odd man in the room, due to the Vikings’ contract negotiations with Justin Jefferson. His wife is already seeing the signs. hinting in a now-deleted Instagram post that their time in Minnesota could be coming to an end following the Vikings’ 31-24 playoff loss to the New York Giants.
Should Thielen become available, he would be an intriguing option for the Bears – for the right price of course. He’ll be 33 years old when the season starts and has already seen a sizeable drop in production. He would make a good under receiver for Justin Fields, who is known for rarely dropping a ball.
3. Robert Woods
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sport
2022 stats: 53 receptions, 527 yard, 2 touchdowns
2023 cap hit: $14.6 million
2023 dead cap hit: $2.5 Million
Cap savings of 2023 $12 million
Statistically speaking, 2022 was Robert Woods’ worst season as a pro. In a trade with Los Angeles Rams, the Tennessee Titans acquired the 30-year-old receiver in return for a 2023 sixth round draft pick. Woods was easily the most targeted receiver on the team, but there was minimal production thanks to the Titans’ struggling passing offense. He is expected to be paid $13.75 million as his base salary for next season. Could he be a cap casualty.
Although they acquired him last year, the Titans gave up very little draft capital. Jon Robinson was also fired as the person who signed off on this trade. Tennessee has $27 million already over their salary cap and will need to retool its offense under new management. Woods is still a viable option for Treylon Burks as a second option, but the Bears might be interested if he was to leave.
Remember that Ryan Poles, general manager, was interested in Woods’ acquisition last year before he joined the Titans. Woods could be a great addition to the Bears’ offense if that interest remains. He was a good Rams player from 2017-2021, and is now one year away from an ACL injury. His chances of returning to the Rams could be high in 2023.
4. Michael Thomas
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
2022 stats: 16 receptions, 171 yard, 3 touchdowns
2023 cap hit: $13.358 millions
2023 dead cap hit: $11.993 million (post-June 1)
Cap savings of 2023 $1.36 million (post-June 1)
It would appear that the New Orleans Saints wouldn’t make sense to release Michael Thomas, an All-Pro. This is despite his 2023 salary cap relief. Spotrac reports that Thomas would add $59 million towards the cap if on the roster in 2024.
The Saints recently restructured Thomas’ lucrative contract last month that will pay him $31.75 million in a roster bonus for 2024 that becomes guaranteed if he’s still on the Saints by March 17th, 2023. John Sigler of Saints Wire details the intricacies of the deal and what the restructure means going forward, but to summarize, it’s highly unlikely Thomas is on the roster in 2023.
Through 2019, Thomas was undoubtedly the greatest receiver in the game. He held the single-season record for receptions in 2019, with 149, and was almost certain to catch more than 100 passes per year until injuries took him out of play. Thomas, who has been dealing with ankle and foot injuries since 2020, was limited to only 10 games over three seasons while still being the highest-paid receiver in the league. The Saints have been in salary cap hell for years now and that isn’t changing in 2023. They’re a whopping $60 million over the cap, worst in the league, and will look for ways to save money. Thomas’s release is a clear possibility.
Out of all of the options at receiver, Thomas’ pending availability is the most intriguing. He’s younger than other veterans such as Allen and Hopkins, and has had more success than any other player on this list. The injury concern is a big red flag and could prevent teams from investing a lot in him. If he’s healthy and the Bears had interest, he would easily become the most talented player on the team. Are Poles willing to take that risk? We’ll have to see as this all shakes out.
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