Porter Could be a Premium Pickup

The Bears have two glaring holes heading into free agency. Being able to solve either the lack of depth and talent at wide receiver or the revolving door at left tackle would give the team flexibility in the draft.

The biggest free agent wide receiver that will be available when free agency begins in early March is Oakland's Jerry Porter. He spent his first four seasons as the understudy to two future Hall-of-Famers in Jerry Rice and Tim Brown.

Offensive coordinator Ron Turner should be able to get a solid scouting report from his brother Norv, who was Porter's head coach this season.

2004 was Porter's first opportunity to be a top target for the Raiders. He caught 64 balls for 998 yards, both career-highs, and nine touchdowns, which tied his career-high.

"I've gotten a few offers from the Raiders," Porter said following the season. "I'm not going to try to strong arm them and say I need this by this time or else. I'm going to weigh my options and let them see what they want to do."

The Raiders have to make a decision on Porter, who at 26 is entering the prime of his career. He's flashed brilliance with two three-touchdown games this season, but hasn't consistently dominated the way many expected.

Early in the season, however, the man taking the role of being the go-to guy was not Porter, but Ronald Curry became more of the featured receiver. Curry caught 50 passes for 679 yards and six touchdowns before sustaining a season-ending Achilles tendon injury in Game 12.

Porter came on particularly strong late in the season, catching 26 passes for 466 yards and six touchdowns over the last seven games.

The Raiders have already made a preliminary offer at the behest of QB Kerry Collins but indications are it was not sufficient in Porter's eyes. He finished the season strong and will engender some interest but the price, believed to be $8 million as a signing bonus, may be too steep for Oakland to be a player.

"I was probably one of the top 5 lowest paid starting receivers," Porter said. "If that's a distinction you want. As far as being a starting receiver, I feel like I've paid my dues. That was my rookie deal and I ain't a rookie no more."

While Porter will command more money than any other wideout on the open market, he would instantly upgrade a unit that totaled 111 receptions with just three touchdowns. At 6-foot-2, 220 pounds Porter possesses the game-breaking speed and size that the Bears current crop lack.

The addition of a quality wide receiver in free agency would allow the Bears to add a left tackle in the draft, which would likely mean picking up an addition draft choice because there isn't an offensive lineman worthy of the fourth slot.


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