Chicago Sun-Times

Booker's exit creates opening for Bennett

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2008.10.05.booker.marty.catch.jpg


The departure of Marty Booker got lost in the shuffle somewhat on Friday with the news offensive tackle John Tait is expected to retire with one year remaining on his contract.

Booker spent six of his 10 NFL seasons with the Bears and departs tied for third in franchise history for receptions, partially a testament to the franchise's inability to develop a quarterback. Booker is the only Bears wide receiver to be selected to the Pro Bowl since Dick Gordon in 1972. He went to the all-star game after the 2002 season when he made 97 catches for 1,189 yards with six touchdowns.

After one more year with the Bears, he was traded to Miami in the deal that landed defensive end Adewale Ogunleye. Booker never seemed to be a fit in Terry Shea's offense and you got the same feeling when he returned last year. Booker seldom got work with the first team in training camp and was virtually invisible in preseason, sparking questions about whether or not he was going to make the roster after signing a $3.5 million, two-year contract.

The club insisted it had a plan for Booker. That plan didn't involve a lot of work. He was on the field for only seven plays in the season opener at Indianapolis and while his reps increased somewhat, he never got real regular use even though he made five starts. Booker turned in one of the most acrobatic catches of his career on Oct. 5 at Detroit. The one-handed grab ranked among the top 10 catches for the season according to NFL.com.

Booker, who will turn 33 in July, is expected to want to continue his career. He's just a year removed from two 50-catch seasons with the Miami Dolphins. But the bigger issue is how his departure is going to play in the Bears' work to revamp the group of wide receivers. The most obvious step here is that with Booker and Brandon Lloyd out of the picture it will be time for third-round pick Earl Bennett to step forward.

"We see him as having starter talent,'' college scouting director Greg Gabriel said of Bennett on draft day. "Whether he becomes a starter as a rookie, remains to be seen.''

Currently, the Bears have five receivers under contract:

Name 2008 statistics

Devin Hester 15 games, 51 catches, 665 yards, 13.0 ypc, 3 TD
Rashied Davis 16 games, 35 catches, 445 yards, 12.7 ypc, 2 TD
Earl Bennett 10 games
Brandon Rideau 2 games
Devin Aromashodu 0 games

Whatever moves follow at the position, and there should be some, keep in mind that the club will be working to promote Bennett. Never forget draft status has its privileges at Halas Hall and the opportunities Bennett might not have received as a rookie, he will get in his second year. As for Booker, he's already been linked to Kansas City where new head coach Todd Haley remains a big fan. Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli was in New England last year and the Patriots had Booker in for a free-agent visit before he signed with the Bears. Stay tuned.

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21 Comments

Brad,

What do you think the odds would be the Bears put Urlacher up for trade for any fellas like Boldin, C. Johnson, or Buress?

While I disagreed with the Booker signing, his veteran presence was what was lacking in our WR group in 2008. Unfortunately, he didn't get much playing time, and his time in the lineup showed he had a lot of trouble getting separation from defenders.

Earl Bennett was a very good player against the fastest players in the country in the SEC. He certainly has the quickness out of breaks to get separation, and in my opinion should be our Bobby Engram for the next several years. Maybe not a downfield threat, but we have that in Hester. He isn't a #1, nor is Hester, but he should be an ideal #3.

Either way, we are down 2 WRs from an already weak group. Davis nearly played himself out of the league with his lack of concentration, but surely they will give him another shot. Rideau, Aromashodu, and Bennett are the guys until we either get a free agent or draft pick to compete for the spot opposite Hester. We are still structuring the passing game around Olsen and Clark (I hope), and Forte out of the backfield as a complement to Hester, but I still think we need that guy who will be open against double-coverage at 10 yards on 3rd and 9, and make a catch in traffic consistently. Maybe asking for 1 guy to do that is too much. Maybe it will be a combination of Olsen, Clark, Hester, and Bennett to get the job done.

Even if Jerry is targeting a WR in the draft, what if the guys he likes (seems like Jerry targets individuals more than position groups) are gone when our turn comes to draft? Certainly not out of the question. We could end up with the same group of stiffs next season that we have now, and be picking up WRs off the street by August. That would be a big problem for Orton or whoever they put at QB next year.

It is almost impossible to think now that the Bears will draft anything but a ROT at #18 unless of course they sign St.Clare and get Gross in Free Agency. Bennett (hopefully slot) has to play a role in 2009 and you would think Rideau might get some opportunities as well. Also round 2 - 4 wouldn't you think the BEARS have to pick a WR in the draft. Nicks does look good as do a few other decent wideouts that might be available at #49.

Angelo should not have signed Marty - he should have signed a much better WR than one that wasn't even going to help. That makes no sense (cents) at all. Why not let Bennet get his feet wet as opposed to signing a one year Booker? This year we would know what we have in Bennet and Bennet would have a year of experience under his belt. That does not speak well of Angelo at all, and now we need another offensive player to go along with the Line he neglected all this time. What the hay is Angelo doing? This does not seem like a good plan at all. If we needed experience let him hire a WR Coach that knows how to teach a WR to actually catch a football.

...also if we needed someone to teach Hester/Bennet the ropes how about hiring a former WR as an assistant Coach and sign a real FA WR. I just did not and still do not understand the Booker signing. He was over the hill last year so much that he did not even make it 2 years, and Tait was over the hill last year and JA brought in 1 OLineman that did not even play? I really do not understand Angelo's plan. He really must have a big scheme this year as far as Free Agency and Draft or he will be gone next year. I sure hope he signs someone this year as the player holes are opening up like chuck holes in the street in spring.

@ Randy:

"That makes no sense (cents) at all."

LOL! That's why it was done. The Bears continually pursue cheapness to the point where the costs outweigh all conceivable benefits. The friggin' miracle is that they didn't sign Booger again.

Go Marty Booger! And take everyone in coaching and management from the McCaskeys on down. Don't let the door hit you in a-- on the way out.

I don't know if there is an answer for the Bears receiver problem in free agency or not? Other than T.J Houshmanzadeh, there are no big names available, but that doesn't mean there isn't a player available that couldn't help Chicago. Chicago needs another Jeff Graham. Graham was a receiver the Bears signed in the early to mid 1990's, he didn't do much with his original team the Steelers, but when he got to Chicago, he produced for the Bears giving them a 1000yd season. Chicago was a better fit for Graham, maybe Chicago can find another player in free agency who didn't produce on his current team, but maybe could for the Bears.

A guy I like is 49ers receiver Bryant Johnson, Johnson didn't put up big numbers this year in San Fran, but a lot of that is probably due to the constant change at QB. When the 49ers finally settled on Shaun Hill at QB, Bryant Johnson became a more effective receiver at the end of the season with Hill. Bryant Johnson has nice size at 6-3, and could be the big possession receiver that Chicago needs. I also like Lance Moore of the Saints, he's a RFA so Chicago would have to give up something, but Moore caught 79 balls for 928 yds and 10 scores, he could be a nice fit in Chicago also.

I do look for the Bears to draft a receiver at some point during the draft. I've read that the Bears liked Ohio states Brian Robiskie who is a big possession type at 6-2. A darkhorse is South Floridas Taurus Johnson who the Bears liked during the east west shrine game. Johnson has nice size at 6-1 201lbs and will probably be a 6-7th rounder. I still look for Earl Bennett to come on now that he is getting more comfortable in the pros, I kown he didn't get on the field as a rookie, but I have read Bennett starting looking better in practice toward the end of the season, and playing a lot faster. If Bennett can make the transition to the pro game, he could be something special with his ability to separate. GO BEARS!!

I can't see the Bears going reciever till round 3 or 4, if Angelo feels he already has the guys. Which he basically thinks all his draft picks are are the right guys. There really looks to only be room for 1 reciever, Hester, Bennett, Davis, and Rideau. Are not going to be cut this year and Angelo has already said it's not about the recievers and he has never been a fan of drafting WR's early.

I bet he has the Berrian compensation pick earmarked for a reciever.

I think people need to get passed Gross comming th the Bears, 20 something All Pro LT's are not cheap and he will have his choice of were to play. Angelo will not get into a bidding war for a guy. Nope he will go after St. CLair and make him the starter at RT which he has been planning on doing anyway and will draft a OT in round 2-4, maybe even later. My guess is that will be it for the line until round 7. Best guess is he goes defense round 1-2, also I still say he will look at a QB in round one if Freeman or Sanchez is there. DE, DB, NT/NG, and QB will get his attention in round one and 2.

Randy just a question for you. Why would Angelo go at Free Agency in a big way when he never has before and he has stated he thinks the Bears are close? I won't say the Bears are cheap, cause there not. But they are conservative. They do not go after the big names, they don't want them. Angelo would rather have a team with all average players than a team with a few great players and a supporting cast. He would rather have 2-3 recievers who can give him 600-700 yards a year than one guy that will put 1400-1500 yards. It's cheaper, it's easier to draft them, and if your average player goes down you have a guy to back him up. If a star goes down it is hard to replace. He looks at depth more than he looks at individual talent.

Just look at the team, it a bunch of Average players for the most part. You could not really build a team around any of these guys. Maybe Harris when he is healthy but he is never healthy, which makes him average. Olsen is a good recieving TE but he can't block and you can't really build your offense around a TE. Forte is also good but he is more of a work horse back than he is a star like Peterson, he will never take over a game against a really good team. On defense you had Lach but Angelo didn't draft him, Alex Brown is average across the board, Briggs is better than average no doubt but is not a guy you can build around.

The Bears are trying to win by attrition not talent, finding Talent plays away from Angelo's strength. Because Angelo has no strength. He does not excell at anything. Same can be said for Lovie, what does he excell at as a head coach. And if either guy has a strength, you better believe they have a major flaw to counter there own strength. Look Hester best return in the NFL for two years, Angelo could not deal with that, Hester was to good, so the team moved him to WR, now Hester is an average WR and a awful return man. This made angelo happy, last two season add them together and the team is 500 again this makes Angelo happy. If he was a Super Villiam he would be Average Man.

Brad,
The true question is, what division II or III wide receiver/safety/cornerback will Angelo draft in the 1st three rounds that will have everyone scrambling for their preseason draft guides while they ask themselves "What university did they say that guy was from?" Classic arrogant Angelo. Always drafts some "diamond in the rough" so we can all stand in awe of his drafting prowess. Yes he's had his hit, but.... Any guesses or is this one too tough to field given the questionable talent this year at University of Louisiana Layfayette or Aliblene Christian? Can't someone, anyone tell this guy he doesn't HAVE to make at least one reach per draft in the 1st 3 or 4 rounds????

Dave
Avid training camp Golden Tee player.

Go ahead and retire Tate!!! This is perfect....now Kyle Ornot will have two new tackles blocking for him.....he'll get killed and then maybe we'll be forced to play Hanie or get a real QB!!!!!OrNOT sucks!!!!!!!!

Brad,

We won't know for sure till training camp, but do you see a little mini-trend similar to Lovie's first years? I'm talking about the Bears turning loose of guys, like Marty Booker and maybe St. Clair, whom they felt were not the answer even when they don't necessarily have the answer in hand. They seemed to have a little more boldness. They didn't know who was their guy, but they knew who was not, and got rid of those. It seems Lovie did that a lot early, but had kind of gotten away from it.

Booker goes to kansas and becomes a star. those are the headlines for next season. He joins x-bear Mark Bradley who played in 10 games last season for 380 yards and 3 touchdowns.
I will be quite interesting to see how these 2 do in kansas next season. Seems to me that the bears don't know how to coach and teach players. In addition, they also don't know how to call a game plan or make changes to the game plan during the game. They have to see the film on Tuesdays (lovie's words ...not mine).
In all, the coaching staff lost at least 4 games last season. Name me a successful team in this league that has winning seasons and the coaching staff looses 4 games for that team every year? You won't find one. Lovie has got to go. Maybe he can also find a job with kansas...as water boy.

Creighton,
Interesting theory on the compensatory selection being tagged for a receiver. I was thinking along similar lines, but I think he will follow the same logic he used with Forte. Most had him tagged in round 3, and we took him in round 2 because we were afraid he wouldn't be there in the 3rd round. He will target a specific guy, and take him earlier than he should go because that's the guy they want. I expect it will be the 2nd rounder, and the compensatory pick will be the position that gets bumped from that round.

Hopefully it will not be the OL, but for some reason I think we are not going to address one of our big needs in the first round. I think since Jerry did not get Flacco last year late like he thought he would, he will reach for Freeman (wants the cannon arm, and is willing to wait on development).

It will be enough to make us all pull our hair out, but like you said, he needs that signature pick that defines his regime. So far, he doesn't have it. A successful QB in Chicago would be the feather in his cap that no GM in decades has been able to claim. QB is a need for this team, but certainly not our most pressing need. We need trench help on both sides of the ball, most notably the fact that we have no tackles on the roster outside of Williams. We have no pass rush either. If we draft a project at QB over those other needs, then one of two things has happened:

-Either we know we are not legit contenders, and we are not close like Lovie said, so Angelo is building for the long haul for this staff, OR
-Jerry is setting up to get rid of Lovie in favor of Gruden or someone else next year, and wants a cornerstone QB in place so it iwll be attractive to the next coach.

Someone goes under the bus, and Jerry can very easily make it Lovie because of the lack of success and player development.

Guys I truly agree with all of your assessments (exspecially about Jerry an-he-is-Low) but, it appears that you r off when you say Hester is a average reciever, in experience yes!

However,did anyone notice that every corner back including the famed duo of the Green Bay Hackers(LoL) played at least 10 yards off him when they did press he ran by them with ease. That being said put a bona-fide stud opposite Hester and you have single coverage the whole game. I willing to bet the tally would read hester 4 catches for 95 yards a game.

What I am trying to say Bear Fans it would be a very nice for a stud reciever but the weapons we have on offense right now lends itself to just getting one player who commands respect, and let Olsen, Clarke, Forte, Bennett, and Hester do their thing.

Go Bears!!!

"Booker goes to kansas and becomes a star. those are the headlines for next season. He joins x-bear Mark Bradley who played in 10 games last season for 380 yards and 3 touchdowns."

Val, I actually agree with you that the Bears seem to have a really hard time developing their talent, but come on... You're honestly saying that Bradley was a star pickup for KC with his 380 yds and 3 TD's? His season was pretty much interchangable with Brandon Lloyd's 26 catches for 364 and 2 TD's (Not sure if that counts the TD he had on Spec Teams in the Carolina Game).

For some reason, Bradley never quite made in back from his knee injury his rookie year. Its obvious that he was in the coaching staff's dog house for a few seasons.

I see the Booker signing last year as a way to get a veteran presence in the WR meetings and teach Hester and Bennett a thing or two, since they don't believe in position coaches with playing experience. I wish Booker all the success in the world, but I never expected very much out of him this time around.

Moving forward, I am optimistic that Bennett steps forward this year to be a solid possession receiver, which can allow Davis to settle back in his old slot receiver role where he was comfortable and actually able to catch a pass thrown his way. I see the Bears grabbing a WR early on day 2 of the draft this year, hopefully another possession type.

GO BEARS!

Creighton,

I share most your take on Angelo/The Bear Hierarchy. I see it, but I don't want to believe it. I don't want to believe they are intentionally going about their business the way you outlined. I'm hoping the blind dog will find the bone this offseason. The question I have is this: Is it because they plan on developing mediocrity or because they don't have the necessary ability/talent/wisdom/skill? What frustrates me is what you said about the Bears willingness to spend money (it seemed like you intimated they do spend, and I agree they do at times). I want to see them spend some of it now, wisely. This offseason the Bears have options available to add impact players via free agency, thus creating options on draft day. They can get somewhere this offseason, even if they only add 1-2 players. I don't think they've had this much opportunity in years. So we're gonna see just what this hierarchy is all about, one way or the other. They either make a splash, or they crash and burn.

I don't know why you're all ragging on Marty,Give him a decent QB and he'll make his catches,the point is the Bears suck period.Marty was far from the problem you ungrateful losers.He was probably one of the best you ever had and this is the way you talk about him? i hope he comes back and makes you guys pay.No over the hill WR could make a catch like the one he made in Detroit.I wish my Phins would've kept him

I don't think any intelligent Bears fan expected Booker to be the answer at WR...he's been a great part of Bears history and I wish he would have had a better season, but he was a name and a veteran and that's it.

If there's one thing that drives me crazy about fans it is the constant complaining.

A year ago...every Bears fan on these posts was talking about how the Bears sucked, how they'd have no running game, how they would be 6-10. We finished 9-7 and could have easily won 2-4 more games if not for falling apart late in games the first couple months. And blame the coaches all you want, the players just didn't get it done against Houston and if they had, we'd have been in the playoffs instead of Philly (who was 1 game shy of the Super Bowl).

I think Lovie is the right coach for us. We just need to make a few shrewd moves. Obviously we have holes on the Offensive Line...we could use more depth at corner...a young QB project wouldn't be bad...and we need a #1 WR.

I think that Hester could put up #1-type numbers with another #1 guy next to him. He destroyed anybody that guarded him 1 on 1. Anyone remember the Saints game? And the kid was in his first year at WR, his first year with Orton, and the go-to-guy for an average passing attack. Orton with a healthy ankle, a better line, and one more receiver could easily get us in the playoffs.

I think we should actually spend some significant cash and snag Gross & Housh. There are other WR's I like better but Housh seems more realistic.

Go Bears!

Cincy just tagged their punter, so TJ is going to hit the market. We'll see who goes after him right out of the gate. Probably not us, but Jerry may surprise us...

Joe I think it depends on were the run starts on WR. Last year you had the big drop and then round 2-3 were big on recievers. Last year the RB run started with the Oline run in the first round and backs were being taken up fast, so they had to move on Forte. This year after Maclin and Crab the other top recievers should all drop too round 2-3. It's not really a talented group after the top two. I have thought that Angelo may look round 2 and hope lightning strikes twice. But I also know the guy has never been big on WR's and does not tend to pick them high. I do think he will look at WR's from small schools, like he did with Forte. Remember he went offense last year with his first 3 picks and took a reciever in rd 3, he will go defense this year as he sees that as his strength, he will stop gap RT with St. Clair and get a RT project in the later rounds 3-5 any warm body will do. Passmore from Marshall, Collie out of BYU, Barden out of Cal-Poly. At tackle maybe Alex Boone out of Ohio state or Watkins out of Florida maybe even Ramon Foster. Bears are not going to make up there minds until they have there mini camp as point out there number one need. Yes they need a mini camp to do this.

Mock
1. Angelo will look to trad down for value. I am gonna say he trades the 18th overall pick to the Pats for the 47th, 58th, and 120th I don't remember JJ's point system but this should be close to accurate. I think Angelo would pull the trigger on this but not sure the Pats would. I think the Pats would do it if Jenkins or Davis are there or they may try to get English, Maybin or Cushing. Any 2 of those 5 guys would be great pickup's for the Pats and might get a trade started Jenkins would be the real key though.

rd 2.
Pick#
47. Robert Ayers DE Tenn
49. Phil Loadholt OT Oklahoma
58. Rashad Johnson FS Bama

rd 3.
Pick#
85. Chris Backer DT Hampton
Comp Pick. Darrius Passmore WR Marshall

rd 4.
Pick#
115. Coy Francies DB San Jose State(an Angelo pick if ever there was one.
120. Devin Moore RB Wyoming(I have him falling to the 4th)


"Randy just a question for you. Why would Angelo go at Free Agency in a big way when he never has before and he has stated he thinks the Bears are close? I won't say the Bears are cheap, cause there not. But they are conservative. They do not go after the big names, they don't want them. Angelo would rather have a team with all average players than a team with a few great players and a supporting cast."

that's the 90% solution Creighton, but Angelo does in fact, spend money on free agent linemen. He almost refuses to draft them, so I guess he has to. Its the one position he actually spends money, and usually gets results. Tait, St. Clair, Miller, and Garza, all picked up as free agents. That is over half of our starters for the 2005 and 2006 playoff runs, and also why our line fell apart soon after.

I will agree with you 100% in pretty much every other category, as his wideout and QB free agent selections are always risk free, 3rd stringers.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on February 15, 2009 1:50 PM.

Tait's retirement would give Bears decison to make on bonus money was the previous entry in this blog.

Safety course: Plotting a future without Mike Brown is the next entry in this blog.

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