Bears’ Ex-Starting Receiver Signs New Deal With New Orleans Saints

Another Chicago Bears free agent is off the board with NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reporting that former starting wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown has signed a new contract with the New Orleans Saints for the 2024 season.

Bears add former Packers' receiver St. Brown

St. Brown caught 26 passes for 385 yards and a touchdown over the past two seasons for the Bears and started 18 of his 23 games for them, including 16 games in 2022. He also became the Bears’ replacement for Chase Claypool after they benched the latter in Week 4 last season, but St. Brown injured his hamstring in his second game and spent the next month on injured reserve, derailing his final campaign with the Bears.

St. Brown also spent four previous seasons with the Green Bay Packers, catching 37 passes for 543 yards and a touchdown. He followed Luke Getsy — the Bears’ offensive coordinator in the previous two seasons — to Chicago during the 2022 offseason.

St. Brown is the sixth of the Bears’ unrestricted free agents to sign elsewhere. D’Onta Foreman (Cleveland Browns), Darnell Mooney (Atlanta Falcons), Justin Jones (Arizona Cardinals), Nathan Peterman (Saints) and Dan Feeney (Minnesota Vikings) have also signed new deals with new teams for the 2024 season.

Equanimeous St. Brown Signing Eliminates Depth Option

Fantasy football sleepers 2020: Equanimeous St. Brown getting hyped by coach Matt LaFleur - DraftKings Network

The Bears may have had no intention of bringing back St. Brown for the 2024 season. Getsy is now in Las Vegas and the quarterback with whom he built chemistry — Justin Fields — has been traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers. If the NFL draft does not go as planned for the Bears, though, they might have liked having the option available.

The Bears have already made some changes to their receiving corps for 2024. They lost Mooney and now St. Brown in free agency but added more value than both combined with their trade for six-time Pro Bowler Keenan Allen in March. They also brought back veteran Dante Pettis — a 2018 second-round pick — on a one-year contract for depth.

Still, the Bears could stand to add more quality receiving depth to their roster and have the means to address the need as soon as the first night of the NFL draft on April 25.

Chicago holds the ninth overall selection in the draft, which puts the team in a strong position to potentially target one of the top three receivers in the class (Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr., LSU’s Malik Nabers or Washington’s Rome Odunze). While there is a chance all three are gone by the time the Bears make their second first-round pick, the odds improve in their favor if four quarterbacks are drafted in the first eight picks.

The Bears also have another, oft-overlooked option for drafting a new wide receiver.

Could Bears Trade Up for WR Outside the 1st Round?

Bears season predictions: Picking their final 2023 record - Chicago Sun-Times

Most analysts and fans are currently — and understandably — fixated on the possibility of the Bears getting one of the top three receivers at No. 9 overall. Odunze has been a popular selection for them in recent mock drafts from CBS Sports and ESPN, but either of the other two choices would be home-run selections for a rising Chicago team.

If the Bears miss the opportunity to get one of them or pass on it in favor of a top-rated defensive player, though, perhaps they can move up from No. 75 overall instead.

The Bears pick first and ninth in the order but will not select again until the 75th pick without a trade to acquire more assets. They could trade down from N0. 9, but the Bears may also feel it could be some time again before they have a top-10 selection, adding incentive to use it and land an impact starter right now. In that case, the team could instead consider packaging its No. 75 pick with one of its 2025 selections to move up into the second round if one of their favorite pass-catchers begins to slip.

Chicago is low on 2024 draft assets, but it does have two second-round picks in 2025 — including one originally belonging to the Carolina Panthers, 2023’s worst NFL team. The Bears may prefer to hold onto the Panthers’ pick after their losing ways ultimately gave Chicago the No. 1 overall in 2024. Then again, it is a premium asset that Chicago could instead use in a trade to win now.

Predicting which receivers the Bears could target in a trade-up is difficult without the context of the first round. They have spoken with Georgia’s Ladd McConkey and Texas’ Xavier Worthy during the pre-draft process with the latter getting a Top 30 visit.

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