On the Record

Indianapolis - Despite the fact that the Bears are putting on a front that they're happy with their receiver situation, there's a good chance the team will look for help at the position in free agency. Read what two NFL executives had to say said about their potential free agent receivers.

General manger Jerry Angelo said the Bears were not going to be major players in free agency this off-season. He said the same thing a year ago, but went out and signed WR Muhsin Muhammad to a six-year $30 million deal days before the official start of free agency. The team later added RT Fred Miller to solidify the offensive line. Stability didn't come cheap, Miller received a five-year $22 million contract to come to Chicago.

There's no doubt the Bears need someone on the roster to step up and become a second option in the passing game to Muhammad. If there's doubt Mark Bradley coming off knee surgery is ready or Bernard Berrian can't stand up to the punishment of being an every down player, free agency would be the quickest solution to the problem.

Antwaan Randle El appears to be an obvious choice. He has the speed the Bears need on offense and he can also fill a void at punt returner. His strong performance in the postseason will raise his value on the open market. The Pittsburgh Steelers would like to retain Randle El because of his versatility, but he may be too expensive to fit in their budget.

"I don't know if he priced himself out," said Kevin Colbert, Steelers Director of Football Operations. "We don't know the interest level. We certainly have an interest in keeping Antwaan. Antwaan would like to stay. He doesn't know what kind of offers he's going to get. Anytime you win a Super Bowl, it enhances your value, maybe artificially, too. You have to be careful you don't place too much value of being a part of a successful organization."

There's some doubt whether Randle El is worth paying big money to because he's a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. He's never caught more than 47 balls in a season. In his first opportunity to consistently start, he finished 2005 with 35 receptions. His lack of production could be the run oriented nature of the Pittsburgh offense, plus he's only been playing wideout for four years.

"Antwaan is a unique player," Colbert said. "He's a converted quarterback turned wide receiver, return specialist. When you look at his sheer numbers, you're not going to be real impressed, but there's no doubt he was a big part of our success."

Another wideout the Bears could go after cost them a victory over the Cleveland Browns. Antonio Bryant caught 6 balls for 83 yards, including two touchdowns in the final minutes of the game. While he finished with 69 receptions for 1,009 yards, the Browns appear willing to let him test the free agent market.

"Well I think there's no denying (Bryant's) athletic ability and a lot of his raw skills. A lot of the same things that he did (in college) he's been able to do in the pros in terms of some of the spectacular plays, but he's also had some drops," said Cleveland Browns general manger Phil Savage. "I think that's just part of his makeup so to speak.

"As I was telling the local guys the other day, we're not shutting door on Antonio but he's certainly going to have some suitors out there."

With inconsistency in Bryant's game, there is doubt where he would fit on the depth chart.

"I think it just depends on the situation," Savage said. "If he comes to Indy he's a No. 3. If he's in Cleveland and Braylon (Edwards is) back he's a No. 2. If he goes to another team that has no receivers he's probably a No. 1. So I think he's flexible that way and can probably fit in with most any situation cause he does the ability to play outside and inside as well."

Either player would provide a talent boost at wideout, but the cost will be a major consideration in the final decision. The Bears will not get into a bidding war for any player, especially for one that isn't of star quality.


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