In 2006, it seemed as if Rashied Davis might have the receiving chops to be a regular contributor in the passing game for the Chicago Bears. In just his second season in the NFL, he caught 22 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns. The former Arena League pass catcher contributed in the playoffs that year as well, catching four passes for 84 yards in the team's first round tilt against the Seattle Seahawks.
Despite his size (5-9, 187) Davis flashed decent ability out of the slot working underneath zones, especially near the goal line. He made many big catches that season and some foresaw him as a fixture on the offense for years to come.
The following season, Davis fell back to Earth. Catching only 17 passes, and dropping nearly as many. He had a slight uptick in production in 2008, yet in 2009 and 2010 combined, he hauled in just 14 passes for 119 yards. Going forward, it's obvious coordinator Mike Martz has no use for the undersized wideout.
Yet Davis stated this weekend that he received information from the team, pre-lockout, that leads him to believe he'll be re-signed for the upcoming season.
"I got a feeling from them that they will be offering me something," Davis said, volunteering at the Position Tech free youth football camp put on at Northwestern University. "Everything is talk until it is actually offered. It sounds good until it actually happens. I am hoping. Hopefully, I don't have to pick my family up and move somewhere else."
WR Rashied Davis
The reason for Davis' optimism lies in his value on special teams, where he's been a stalwart for six seasons in Chicago. He serves as a gunner on punts and kickoffs, and has excelled in that role. The Bears stand to lose their six best special-teams tacklers to free agency this offseason, so securing Davis' services has apparently become a priority for the front office.
"It's a good thing I don't have to worry about [the special teams losses]," Davis told the Chicago Tribune. "I just have to get a contract. They're going to have to make a decision of who is most important to keep and what they want to pay everybody. Obviously, you are going to have to try to bring some young guys along because we won't be able to get everybody [back]."
Obviously, he will not be offered a fat contract. In fact, the team will most likely try to sign him somewhere in the veteran-minimum range. When you couple his reduced price tag with his ability to fill in at receiver and his solid locker room presence, it makes sense for the club to bring him back in the fold.
Special teams coordinator Dave Toub will have a hard time replacing the potential loss of, not only Davis, but also Corey Graham, Garrett Wolfe, Brian Iwuh, Rod Wilson and Josh Bullocks. The team could fill many of those spots with undrafted rookies, but it will help considerably to have at least one player familiar with Toub's system. That player looks to be Davis.
Some will question the value of signing Davis, whose only contributions come on special teams, when a cheaper option could be had by signing a player with less experience. The team lost Pro Bowl special teamer Brendn Ayanbadejo in 2008, yet the special teams unit didn't lose a beat. In fact, no matter the personnel, the Bears' special teams have ranked in the Top 10 in the league every year under Toub.
Yet at not time was there the potential to lose as many valuable contributors as there is this offseason. Which is why bringing Davis back for a slightly larger payday than a rookie would receive makes plenty of sense.
For his part, Davis would love to stay in Chicago.
"No guy wants to go to a team overnight and not know anybody or the system. Really, it's the system," he said. "Nobody wants to go and have to learn a totally new system and just hope that they can get it down quick enough to be successful through the year."
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport com. To read him every day, visit BearReport com and become a Chicago Bears insider.