Barring a surprising move by the Minnesota Vikings, many believe wide receiver Sidney Rice will be dipping his wick into free agency waters next months. There will be other receivers sure to draw interest from Chicago Bears management, regardless of Dan Pompei’s inane belief that the position is not a necessity for the club. Braylon Edwards and Vincent Jackson are almost assuredly out of their current homes, with VJ requiring a mid-round pick before April. But Sidney Rice is the prize of the market. And if the Bears want to pair their franchise quarterback with a franchise receiver, they’ll break the bank and bring him in.
This should not be taken, however, as a slight on our current crop of wideouts. Devin Hester and Johnny Knox are excellent, developing players but neither requires anything resembling a double team on a third-and-eight. Earl Bennett has games where he makes fans think he could be a star and then follows them with three or four catchless afternoons.
The Bears need a star on the outside. A star to be feared. And they need a player who is capable of out-leaping a quality corner and bringing in a pass the average receiver would let hit the ground (or worse be intercepted). Rice is that player and he earned his stripes in this league hauling in errant tosses from the worst culprit of “just fling it up in the air” the league has ever seen. He will not only give the Bears options on the outside, create horrible mismatches for opposing defensive coordinators and become the best talent the Bears have ever fielded at the position but his impact on Cutler will be visible immediately. Watch the quarterback’s confidence soar as a few of those passes pulled out of the air by corners end up as touchdowns.
The Bears did not hesitate to bring in Julius Peppers. They understood the need. They had the money. If Rice hits free agency, they must do the same.