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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Jason Lieser

DJ Moore is a good start, but Bears must make wide receivers a priority this offseason

Moore is 209 yards away from breaking Brandon Marshall’s 2012 single-season team record of 1,508 yards receiving. (AP Photos)

Receiver DJ Moore was a great pickup for the Bears, who got him as part of trading the No. 1 overall pick of the draft to the Panthers last spring.

General manager Ryan Poles thought he had completed that part of the roster. Moore would lead a trio that also featured Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool. All had high potential, were 26 or younger and were on favorable contracts. The Bears hadn’t looked that well-positioned at receiver in years.

That plan unraveled quickly. Now the Bears are down to Moore and not much else, and the lack of production at the position besides him is a grim preview of their future if they don’t make receiver a priority in the offseason.

Moore is pretty much what they’ll have in the season finale Sunday at the Packers. Claypool was gone after three games, and Mooney seems unlikely to be available because he is still in the concussion protocol and missed practice Thursday. As a pending free agent, it’s possible Mooney already has played his last game with the Bears.

After Moore, who is playing through an ankle injury, the Bears will rely on rookie Tyler Scott (16 catches), Velus Jones (four) and Equanimeous St. Brown (four). They also have tight end Cole Kmet, who is having a career season with 70 catches for 678 yards and six touchdowns.

That’s not good enough going forward. Look what Super Bowl hopefuls such as the Eagles, Dolphins and 49ers have. All four of the Ravens’ top receivers were first-round picks.

The upside for Poles is that he has everything he needs to fix the problem. Between his draft capital and his salary-cap space, he theoretically could have Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. and 10-time 1,000-yard receiver Mike Evans here by the spring.

Having Moore also is an advantage because that’s one concrete answer. His production doesn’t fluctuate like Mooney’s does, and he’s not a headache like Claypool was. He just can’t do it alone.

‘‘That’s for the future,’’ Moore said Thursday. ‘‘Whoever we get [or] whoever steps up, I can’t really speak on that right now. But we’ve got Velus and Tyler that need to step up big time, and I know they will.’’

That’s overly optimistic. Jones probably won’t be on the team next season, and Scott is talented but has a ways to go.

Moore needs someone who’s as big a threat as he is. The disparity between him and the rest of the Bears’ receivers is evident by him accounting for an NFL-high 39.7% of his team’s receiving yards.

Moore will go into the game against the Packers with 92 catches for 1,300 yards and eight touchdowns. He was surprised he didn’t get picked for the Pro Bowl.

‘‘I’m even-keeled,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m not too down about it, but I’m not happy. It would’ve been nice to make it this year, but next year is gonna be more amazing.’’

His 1,300 yards receiving is the fifth-highest single-season total in Bears history. While statistics don’t seem especially important to Moore — it’s easy not to care when you always can assume the numbers are good — he has been tracking his progress toward Brandon Marshall’s team record of 1,508 in 2012.

‘‘So maybe a 209-yard game is coming,’’ Moore said. ‘‘You never know.’’

He had 230 against the Commanders in Week 5, so maybe.

But between Mooney struggling and other moves not working out, Poles still has a lot of work to do at the position. Moore is a great start, but Poles needs to find more players on his level. It’s one of the most important things he can do to help whoever the Bears’ quarterback is next season.

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