Bears Inside Slant: Booker No. 1?

Marty Booker is one of the best wide receivers in Chicago Bears history from a statistical point of view, and now it appears he'll get another chance to be the top target in the Windy City. But who will get him the ball? Well, we'll see. Get the Inside Slant from the NFL experts at

The Monsters of the Midway and Marty Booker seem to be perfect for each other.

The Bears get a physical, veteran presence at wide receiver, two things the current roster is lacking, and at the bargain rate of $3.5 million for two years. Booker gets the chance to once again be the go-to guy in someone's passing game, as he was from 2001-03 in his first go-round with the Bears.

"Going anywhere else, I would have had to take that role of being a No. 2 or No. 3 guy," Booker said. "Coming into Chicago, I have the opportunity to get that No. 1 job and be the No. 1 guy. Plus, Chicago is where it all started for me. I still feel I have some unfinished business up there."

After Booker was traded from the Bears to the Dolphins during the 2004 preseason, he was forced to take a back seat to talented 2005 Pro Bowl pick Chris Chambers, although he still averaged 48.5 receptions and 657 yards in his four seasons in Miami. But he was released late last month in a cost-cutting maneuver that saved the Dolphins almost $4 million under the salary cap.

Last year, his 50 catches ranked just 29th in the AFC, but they were more than the total of all the other returning wide receivers currently on the Bears' roster.

"I just feel I didn't get the opportunities I wished for when I was in Miami," he said. "Given opportunities, I know I can still play this game at a high level."

Booker was a Pro Bowl pick in 2002 after back-to-back seasons of 100 and 97 catches, the top two performances in Bears history. He watched with mixed feelings when several of his former teammates, including quarterback Rex Grossman, participated in Super Bowl XLI in Miami.

"The whole trade thing, it was something that just jumped on me so quick, and I didn't see it coming," Booker said. "It was tough. But we all understand that's the business side of it. You always have to adapt and overcome. I put it behind me and moved on.

"[But] sitting there, down here especially, with the Super Bowl being here in Miami when Chicago played Indianapolis, it was kind of tough. You always want to root for the guys that you played with, [but] you're also like, 'Man, I don't want them to win and I'm not there.' It was good to see them make it, and hopefully I will get that chance again myself."

Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner moved quickly to correct an apparent misstatement by recently acquired free-agent wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, who said he had been told that Rex Grossman was the Bears' No. 1 quarterback.

QB Rex Grossman
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Actually, the Bears have portrayed the quarterback competition as an even-up battle between Grossman and Kyle Orton.

"Brandon said that he assumed it was going to be Rex," Turner said. "I just want to clarify that. You guys know the situation. It's an open competition. Both guys have been told that. When I talked to Brandon about the quarterback situation, I talked about both guys, about Rex Grossman and Kyle. I feel we've got two guys that can get the ball to all of our receivers."

Maybe Lloyd really did misspeak, or maybe the Bears' quarterback competition won't be as even as coaches say. …

Grossman was just a rookie in Marty Booker's last year with the Bears, but they have some history together. Booker caught Grossman's first touchdown pass.

"I think Rex has done a real good job there," Booker said. "He's gotten a lot of backlash about injuries and staying healthy. But I think Rex is a good player. The time I was there, I really liked Rex. Unfortunately, I had to leave, [but] I thought we would be a good connection. By coming back, hopefully we can get that connection rekindled."

First Grossman will have to win a battle with Orton for the starting job, but quarterback uncertainty is nothing new to Booker. In the past two seasons, he has caught passes from Cleo Lemon, John Beck, Trent Green, Daunte Culpepper and Joey Harrington. …

Neither Turner nor head coach Lovie Smith will divulge a timetable for selecting a starting quarterback, even if one exists, but both insist the candidates will compete on a level playing field.

"Both guys are going to have an opportunity to show what they can do, working with the No. 1s, working with the No. 2s, getting equal reps," Turner said. "We'll just see who comes out and runs the offense the best and the most consistently." …

Restricted free agent wide receiver Rashied Davis, who caught 17 passes as a part-time slot receiver last season, has drawn interest from several other teams and could be leaving soon. Since he was given the lowest tender offer by the Bears ($927,000) and wasn't drafted, they will receive no compensation for his loss.

"Rex Grossman is the starter. Coach Ron Turner and coach Lovie think very highly of him." – Recently acquired wide receiver Brandon Lloyd (mistakenly) discussing the Bears' quarterback situation, which coaches have said is up for grabs between Grossman and Kyle Orton.

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