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Short or Tall, Bears Are In The Market For A Wide Receiver

Most of the talk this week has been about newly freed Plaxico Burress and where he might renew his NFL career should their be a 2011 season. Burress spent the last 20 months in jail for essentially shooting himself in the leg. Now fully healed and no doubt having learned from past mistakes, he's ready to begin the first day of the rest of his life.

As it happens, the Bears could use a downfield threat since they currently don't have a legitimate No. 1 wideout on their roster. But their one-time interest in Burress has waned and there's virtually no chance -- despite Dwyane Wade's tweets -- that he will end up in Chicago. That doesn't mean the Bears aren't looking, though.

In a recent mailbag column, Chicago Tribune reporter Dan Pompei was asked if the Bears would value a "big wide receiver" to make Jay Cutler's job easier. Here's what he said:

"The Bears are not opposed to adding a big receiver. In fact, there is a chance, maybe even a good one, that they will do so. But it's hard to find a big receiver who can do everything the Bears ask their receivers to do. What the Bears want, essentially, is a big receiver who can run routes like a smaller one. Mike Martz is big on having receivers who are versatile enough to efficiently run all the routes in his playbook. If all a receiver has is one or two tricks, it becomes easier for defenses to take away those tricks."

And that's the rub: like him or hate him, Martz doesn't have much need for tall, lumbering pass catchers. Even Olsen is nimble, as far as tight ends go. But as Pompei notes, that doesn't mean that "tall" equals "bad". It's just that Burress, never known for his speed and more than two years removed from his last meaningful game, isn't a good fit.

A more likely candidate, at least in terms of fitting what Martz is looking for, is un-tall free agent Santana Moss, 32, who spent the previous six seasons in Washington. Last season was his most productive since 2005; Moss hauled in 93 passes for 1,115 yards and six touchdowns. The ChicagoBears.com's Larry Mayer talked about Moss in a recent "Chalk Talk" column.

"Moss has said that he wants to re-sign with Washington, but I see no reason why the Bears wouldn’t at least consider taking a look at him unless they feel he’s too similar in size, stature and style to receivers such as Johnny Knox and Devin Hester who are already on their roster."

If the option is another Knox or Hester or a player like Burress, you'd think the Bears would take their chances with the former. That said, Moss and Burress won't be the only available pass-catching talents once the labor dispute is resolved. And if the choice is overpaying for free agents or going into 2011 with the same guys that got the Bears to the NFC Championship game a year ago, I think we know how this will play out.