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Laviska Shenault
NFL

Should Bears Trade For Jaguars WR Laviska Shenault?

  • Bryan Perez
  • March 15, 2022
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One team’s trash is another team’s treasure, right? In the case of the Jacksonville Jaguars and wide receiver Laviska Shenault, the suddenly forgotten wide receiver in Duval could be primed for the Chicago Bears’ taking.

The Jaguars have been the NFL’s busiest team through the first day of the NFL’s free agency legal-tampering window. Three of their notable signings have been highly-paid pass-catchers: WR Christian Kirk, WR Zay Jones, and TE Evan Engram. With Marvin Jones—last year’s high-priced free-agent addition—entrenched as Jacksonville’s WR1 (for now), that leaves Shenault as fifth in the pass-catching pecking order… at best.

It’s a surprising turn of events for the former University of Colorado star and darling of Draft Twitter. Shenault’s do-it-all skill set as a 2020 NFL Draft prospect set high expectations for his NFL projection. In many ways, Shenault was supposed to be a version of what we saw from Deebo Samuel and the San Francisco 49ers last season. Through two seasons in the league, however, he’s been an inconsistent and miscast offensive weapon for the Jaguars.

Shenault is at least partially responsible for his descent down Jacksksonville’s depth chart. His play regressed in 2021 when he finished with 619 receiving yards and zero touchdowns. This, after scoring five touchdowns as a rookie. The addition of quarterback Trevor Lawrence was supposed to propel Shenault into the next tier of wideouts, but he did little to prove his increase in targets was warranted. He had 100 targets in 2021 compared to 79 as a rookie and his production stayed the same or regressed in every major category.

So, you may be asking, ‘why would the Bears be interested in an underperforming player who the Jaguars appear willing to give up on?’ Fair question. But if there’s any team that can roll the dice on the natural talent Shenault possesses, it’s Chicago.

Take a look at the Bears’ current group of wide receivers. It consists of Darnell Mooney… and that’s it. Mooney, the small-in-stature playmaker, is locked in as one of the top two targets for quarterback Justin Fields next season, and while it’s a safe bet to project Chicago will sign a veteran or two at some point in free agency and draft an early-rounder at the position, Shenault is worth rolling the dice on.

A trade for Shenault wouldn’t cost much; a late-day-three pick at most. And it probably wouldn’t even involve a day-three pick in 2022. If the Jaguars really want to move on from him—as their targeted free-agent signings seem to suggest—the Bears should be among the first teams to try and add a skill set like this to their offense:

 

 

Shenault’s playmaking ability, if truly unlocked, can be very similar to Samuel’s. He’s similarly sized (he’s an inch taller and 10 pounds heavier) and has the same after-the-catch ability; he runs like a big running back once the ball is in his hands. Granted, Samuel is a tick faster (he ran a 4.48 40-yard dash compared to Shenault’s 4.58), but at just 23 years old and with a strong sample size of splash plays early in his career, Shenault catching passes from Fields should be an enticing proposition for Poles.

 

 

There’s also that whole salary thing that should make the Bears interested in calling the Jaguars to inquire about Shenault. He’s entering the third year of his rookie contract and is being paid pennies on the dollar compared to the going rate for starting wide receivers. Jacksonville agreed to pay Kirk $18 million per year, and Jones will average $10 million for each of the three years he signed for. Neither player is worth those salaries, but the fact Jacksonville paid them that much is further proof of how much they’ve soured on Shenault.

It’s also evidence of how much it costs to add average wideouts to your team. If the Bears want to remain on a balanced budget over the first few seasons of the Fields era, Shenault’s contract would accomplish that goal.

Poles appears willing to sit back and let the wide receiver market come to him. It’s a smart strategy for a position group that always results in bloated salaries early in the free agency signing period. And maybe, just maybe, some of those bloated salaries will work in the Bears’ favor by making Shenault, who’s still a young and exciting wide receiver, available on the trade market.

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Bryan Perez