Bears boost offensive firepower with free agent haul

Bears drop second-straight, losing 26-18 to Saints.

The Chicago Bears acted quickly Tuesday, pouncing on a trio of free agent playmakers, including former Jacksonville wide receiver Allen Robinson.  The Bears also added highly-regarded tight end Trey Burton of the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, as well as speedy slot receiver Taylor Gabriel. To bolster the special teams, the Bears inked former Dolphins kicker Cody Parkey.

The aggressive moves were just what the doctor ordered for a Bears offense short on production and firepower.  In Robinson, Chicago General Manager Ryan Pace hands new head coach Matt Nagy and quarterback Mitch Trubisky a bonafide downfield threat.  Robinson is recovering from a torn ACL suffered in the 2017 season opener, but is expected to be cleared for activity before training camp opens in mid-July. Robinson caught just one pass before getting hurt, but posted impressive statistics in both 2015 when he caught 80 passes for 1,400 yards with 14 touchdowns. He followed up with 73 catches for 883 yards and six touchdowns in 2016.At 6-3, Robinson provides the Bears a deep-play threat. The Penn State product received favorable reviews when he was drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL  Draft. 

The Slant…NFL Draft Guide presented this scouting report: “Hard-working, dynamic athlete. Has a knack for making things look easy on the football field. With great size, speed and strong hands, Robinson’s 6-3 frame and leaping ability makes him a big target in the red zone. Fluid and flexible athlete for his larger frame with room to get stronger. Deceiving acceleration with sharp cuts to be a dangerous catch-and-go pass catcher. Physical ballcarrier with balance and body strength to shake off defenders and pick up chunks of yards after contact. Ultra productive the last two seasons in Happy Valley despite turmoil and young, inconsistent QB play. Does a nice job working back to the ball and finding soft spots in zones. Works well in traffic and tight areas to fight for the ball and win jump-ball situations. Uses his hands to fight through the jam and create room to work. Tough and won’t shy from contact. Large catching radius with a good vertical to attack the ball. Willing blocker in run support. Team leader.”

As for the other players, Burton is a promising, athletic tight end who fits the mold of the “Andy Reid/Kansas City” offense.  Burton emerged as a unsung player in the Eagles run to the Super Bowl. A former undrafted free agent out of Florida, Burton combines fine hands with high football intelligence and the speed to get open downfield. He caught 23 passes for 248 yards and five touchdowns in 2017.  Burton should provide Trubisky a reliable receiver who can do a little bit of everything.

Gabriel brings the quickness and explosive speed to work underneath. Gabriel gathered in 33 catches for 378 yards and a score in 2018 for Atlanta.

While the Parkey signing might be overlooked, his presence should give the Bears a steadying and reliable scoring option. Like most kickers, Parkey’s has endured a nomadic existence, kicking for four NFL teams in his career (Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Miami). The former Auburn kicker has been consistent from outside of 40 yards, something that had to weigh on General Manager Ryan Pace.  Chicago cycled through Connor Barth, Cairo Santos, and Mike Nugent in 2017.

Bears Bits: The Bears are expected to bring back CB Prince Amukamara, a solid contributor in 2017. …Backup LB Christian Jones expects to sign a two-year deal in Detroit.

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