Booker Is a Bear Once Again

WR Marty Booker (Al Bello/Getty)

The Chicago Bears appear to be in big trouble at the wide receiver position, releasing veteran Muhsin Muhammad and losing No. 1 target Bernard Berrian in free agency. But GM Jerry Angelo brought back a former fan favorite Monday, signing Marty Booker to a two-year contract.

The Monsters of the Midway have endured their share of defections at the wide receiver position this offseason, but GM Jerry Angelo finally made an addition Tuesday by signing former Bear Marty Booker.

Booker returns to Chicago, where he spent five seasons (1999-2003) and ranks fifth in Bears history with 315 catches and sixth with 3,684 receiving yards. He also ranks tied for ninth in Bears annals with 23 touchdown receptions. The Louisiana-Monroe product was originally selected by Chicago in the third round (78th overall) in the 1999 draft. Booker returns to the Bears after spending the last four seasons with the Miami Dolphins. The 6-0, 210-pound receiver has 509 career receptions for 6,311 yards and 34 touchdowns.

Booker may not be starter material anymore and hasn't had a 1,000-yard season since 2002, but he's a respected veteran who could fill a role as a slightly younger version of the departed Muhsin Muhammad.

JC's Take: The Bears would like to see both Mark Bradley and Devin Hester play up to their potential and emerge as go-to receivers in the passing game, but adding Booker is an inexpensive insurance policy.

Bears fans who think Booker will once again be a 90-catch guy now that he's back in the Windy City are in for a rude awakening, as his best season in Miami was 2004: 55 receptions, 747 yards, and 6 touchdowns. However, he still has above-average hands, is big enough to be a factor in the red zone, and can serve as that much-needed possession target since Bradley and Hester tend to rely on speed. This move does not bode well for training-camp hero Mike Hass, billed as a great short and intermediate route-runner who will catch anything in the zip code.

Adding Booker means GM Jerry Angelo will pass on younger – and more expensive – free-agent options like D.J. Hackett, although a high draft pick like Limas Sweed of Texas remains a reasonable possibility.

John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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