Chance after chance the Bears gave to their offensive building block Kevin White. Selected seventh overall out of West Virginia, there was a lot of hype going into his rookie year. Only Amari Cooper could beat him as the top receiver in that draft and, with his incredible physical traits, White seemed like a lock for a number one receiver. Fast forward three seasons, and he has only seen the field five times in his entire career.
Missing an entire rookie season raises enough alarms by itself, but White’s misfortune has reached new highs after being banished right back to injured reserve only through a single game. It only took 51 minutes into the 2017 year for White’s shoulder to fail him and add to the three-year streak of season-ending injuries for the former seventh overall pick.
His rookie year it was shin surgery, four games (a career high for games played) into his sophomore year and a fractured fibula knocked him out of the race. It took a little minute for us recompose ourselves and find it in our hearts to forgive the poor lad, but then we watched as White was unable to make it out of the first game of the 2017 season due to a fractured shoulder blade. And as tough as it is to say, this has to be the last straw for the hapless receiver.
It’s hard to believe that at one point White was the clear heir to Brandon Marshall throne once he was shipped off to the Jets. The duo of White-Alshon Jeffery looked to regain that record-breaking 2013 offensive firepower but another White injury left Alshon high and dry. Cameron Meredith turned out to be the breakout star for the Bears in 2016 (2015 we choose not to speak about anymore) and Jeffery then wasn’t resigned this past offseason and he skipped town to Philadelphia, leaving open the opportunity for an explosive Meredith-White duo in 2017, who both suffered season-ending injuries.
The frustration with White hit an all-time high after his most recent season ender. He was the go-to guy in the passing game after Meredith went down with a torn ACL in preseason and on a team staring down a soon to be under center rookie quarterback, White needed to at least make it out of the season healthy. Even that was too much to ask. And going into a draft with names like Calvin Ridley and Courtland Sutton more than likely available at the eighth, the Bears are already preparing for life after White.
While he isn’t entering the final year of his contract, it is time for the Bears to decide whether to pick up his fifth-year option or not. And after three straight seasons forking over money to a player perpetually on the injured reserve, it’s sadly time to decline. The Bears desperately need offensive help but they won’t find that in a receiver with 193 career yards.
It’s time to turn their sails to the future and address the receiver demand in the draft rather than keep putting their eggs in White’s basket. Both Ridley and Sutton are too enticing to pass up on and with the triumphal return of Meredith, White simply doesn’t fit into the equation anymore. Even if he proves himself by surviving this upcoming season injury-free (don’t laugh, it could happen), he’s still the third or fourth receiver behind a bright young rookie and a potentially budding star.
Signing him to any amount of money wouldn’t be worth it unless you consider him as “depth” and there are many stabler, cheaper options out there. Because of his injury history, he has been labeled as injury prone and that’s not something you can just get rid of on a resume. Every season for the rest of his career, unless he can go multiple strong campaigns completely healthy, will leave fans and coaches holding their breaths every time he’s tackled or interacts with anything physically.
Maybe a team takes a swing on him, maybe this is going to be his last season in the league, either way, the Bears have better options at receiver and paying him anything outside maybe a half-eaten bag of Lays comes with a level of risk not worth the time or money. And if the Bears can snag a Ridley or a Sutton in the upcoming draft and nab a Paul Richardson in free agency, the wide receiver corps is passable. There is no need to take another risk on the embattled White when far cleaner, far safer choices are in the building already.
Here’s hoping White can shamble together at least a solid NFL career for himself.