The Bears' signing of former New York Giant and No. 2 draft pick Rueben Randle to a reserve/futures contract on Tuesday was a small tell that the Bears indeed will pull just about any lever to effect a roster upgrade. But Randle is a curious case — they had a chance to sign him anytime last season and didn't — and there's a teeny shred of "this sounds kinda familiar" to it.
Roy Williams. Brandon Marshall. Now Randle? All part of a group that looks every bit the part — and then teams find out why they were available in the first place.
Randle was the 63rd player taken in the 2012 draft, 18 picks after the Bears under GM Phil Emery traded up in in the second round to grab Alshon Jeffery and already had dealt away two No. 3's to acquire Marshall. "Enigmatic" would be a fair descriptor for all three receivers.
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Randle piled up 188 receptions, 2,644 yards and 20 touchdowns in his four seasons with the Giants, and started 33 of 64 games. But two NFL personnel men described Randle as a head case who runs lousy routes and was never where he was supposed to be, which did not sit well with quarterback Eli Manning. Consensus was that the Giants would've dumped Randle if he hadn't been someone's No. 2 draft pick.
Signing Randle at this point, after he was out of football all year following his failure to stick with Philadelphia past the 75 round of cuts, is intriguing. The Bears brought him to Halas Hall for a workout in late November but chose not to sign him despite a wideout-lite lineup that was without Jeffery (suspended) and Kevin White (injured), had Deonte Thompson starting, and proceeded to drop 10 passes the following game vs. Tennessee.
A reserve/futures contract assures the Bears a longer look at Randle this offseason, at a time when their receivers depth chart is in flux, with Jeffery coming out of his franchise tag, Eddie Royal unlikely to return after two injury-riddled seasons and Marquess Wilson a free agent but coming off a fractured foot.
On Sept. 12, 2015, two current Bears were on the same field well before they became NFL prospects and promising pieces of a franchise’s core.
Tarik Cohen, playing for North Carolina A&T, ran 15 times for 69 yards, putting together an impressive day given the opponent was a Power Five program in North Carolina. And for the Tarheels, a backup quarterback named Mitch Trubisky tagged into a blowout and had a 35-yard touchdown run, and also completed five of seven passes for 37 yards with a touchdown.
Two years later, Trubisky and Cohen are here in Chicago and have already provided glimpses into what the Bears’ offense could be in the not-too-distant future.
“Tarik’s always been a beast,” Trubisky said. “I’m glad we’re on the same team. He’s fearless, man.”
Cohen (seven carries 39 yards) and Trubisky (18/25, 166 yards, 1 TD) were the offensive stars of the Bears’ first preseason game. It was the biggest stage Cohen played on after that 2015 game in Chapel Hill, and in it the 5-foot-6, 181 pound rookie showed he belongs in the NFL.
“I’ve always said it’s all about heart,” Trubisky said. “You’ve got a bunch of measurables, but it’s all about heart and that’s what he goes out there and plays with. He’s fearless running the ball and he can take it the distance any given snap.
“It’s tough for me because if I hand it off to him I want to watch him run but I’ve got to carry out my fakes and stuff like that. But he’s a great teammate to have and what I love about him is he always practices hard. No one is outworking him. He’s practicing hard and he loves being out here playing this game.”
Who says football can't be fun?
Per wide receiver Markus Wheaton's Instagram account, the Bears had quite a bit of fun playing the "Who he look like?" game on Wednesday:
No mercy on the new guys as Roberto Aguayo was compared to Pedro from "Napoleon Dynamite." Are "Vote for Roberto" T-shirts next?
Even the most respected veterans don't have a free pass as Kyle Long apparently looks like Marcin Gortat.
This could be the best one, though. Kevin White as Kel from "Good Burger."
We'll order up a healthy season for White and many touchdowns.