Eddie Royal’s time with the Chicago Bears was short-lived. His departure could open the door for the Bears to sign Victor Cruz, former Pro Bowl receiver of the New York Giants.
On Thursday, the Bears reportedly released (courtesy of the Chicago Tribune) Eddie Royal, defensive lineman Will Sutton, fullback Paul Lasike, and offensive lineman Cornelious Edison. The departures were moves that the Bears made as the new fiscal year for the NFL begins.
Most of the cuts the Chicago Bears made on Thursday were minor moves. Eddie Royal being released was the exception. He was a big name who will offer the Bears some sizable savings on their salary cap. Also in the case of the veteran wide receiver, he was one of the first free agency signings made by Chicago Bears’ general manager Ryan Pace.
The Bears cutting Royal was not a surprising move. Only a handful of NFL observers predicted that Royal would be starting the season with the Bears. Chances are great that assumption developed after the Bears opted not to take a wide receiver in the draft. The Bears did address the wide receiver void in free agency with the signings of Markus Wheaton and Kendall Wright. Neither of the two brings a bevy of experience with them. They fit right in with the incumbent receivers on the Bears’ roster.
Eddie Royal was the Chicago Bears’ veteran wideout who had one year left on a three-year deal (courtesy of the NFL website) he signed in 2015. With the Bears, Royal caught 70 passes for 607 yards and three touchdowns. The production was present when Royal was healthy enough to play. Unfortunately, he only appeared in 18 out of 32 games for the Bears. Releasing Eddie Royal saves the Chicago Bears $5 million of cap space.
The Bears went into the NFL offseason with nearly $63 million of money to spend, according to USA Today. The Bears were one of the more active teams in NFL free agency. Along with Wheaton and Wright, the Bears added tight end Dion Sims and quarterback Mike Glennon on offense. All of them will either start or play a lot of snaps.
The Bears still have a glut of pass-catchers without Royal on the roster, but they could use a wide receiver with experience.
With Eddie Royal getting released, it could open the door for former Pro Bowler Victor Cruz. The Chicago Bears are one of the teams who are looking to visit with the former New York Giants star.
The Bears are scheduled to meet with Cruz on Monday, according to CSN Chicago. If an agreement is reached between the Bears and Cruz, it will muddy a few things.
A 30-year-old Victor Cruz is past his prime. At best, Cruz is a No. 2 receiver. The Bears have a group of No. 2 receivers. The question is, can anyone develop into the top target?
Cameron Meredith is the closest thing the Chicago Bears have to a No. 1 receiver, yet he is far from a finished product. What Meredith needs is the guidance of a veteran teammate, someone who can further teach him the nuances of being a professional.
Victor Cruz is an ideal choice as a potential mentor for all of the Bears’ young receivers. But would he take away playing time from someone whom the Bears need to develop?
Markus Wheaton is in the fold on a three-year contract. He is expected to be around for the duration of that contract as long as he contributes. Wright is on a prove-it deal. Third-year receiver Kevin White has to stay on the football field to develop. Then there is Meredith, who will be expected to take over the pass targets that Alshon Jeffery leaves behind.
The addition of Victor Cruz would slide everyone but Meredith down a peg. Conversely, if Cruz is signed, he would give quarterback Mike Glennon a reliable receiver.
Nothing is set in stone regarding the Chicago Bears and Victor Cruz. The Bears are one of several teams that want to bring Cruz in the fold. Much more will be known after both sides meet on Monday.
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