Free Agent Breakdown: Eddie Royal
By Dan Durkin-
What happened: The Bears signed wide receiver Eddie Royal to a three-year deal late Wednesday evening.
How it affects the Bears' salary cap: Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but it's fair to say Royal's signing as a likely No. 3 receiver won't break the bank. Chicago entered free agency with around $32 million available, about $6 million of which is earmarked for the draft class. While exact details aren't known for all the new contracts, Pernell McPhee's deal works out to an average annual value of around $8 million, while Antrel Rolle's is less than $4 million. Even with Royal's deal, there's cap space to sign a few more quality free agents, although the Bears appear to be steering clear of the high-profile players.
Player bio bits: The 28-year old Royal is entering his eighth NFL season. He was selected in the second round of the 2008 draft by the Denver Broncos, spending two seasons with Jay Cutler. In his rookie season, Royal registered 91 receptions and 980 yards, which remain career high totals. Over the past two seasons in San Diego, Royal emerged as a red zone target, collecting 15 touchdowns. Royal is also an experienced returner, who has returned two punts and one kickoff for touchdowns in his career.
How Royal fits the system: Last season the Bears' receiving corps was similar in skill and size and lacked a speed element. Royal is best when deployed from the slot, where he uses his quickness to get open against safeties and linebackers on option routes and bubble screens.
Offensive coordinator Adam Gase heavily utilizes the screen game, for which Royal is a natural fit. The Broncos offense gained a new element when they acquired Emmanuel Sanders last season. While Royal doesn't possess the same long speed as Sanders, he is just as sudden. His chemistry with Cutler is a benefit, as quarterbacks have preferences on how routes are to be adjusted for certain coverages. This is a value move for the Bears, which won't preclude the Bears from drafting a young prospect from a deep wide receiver class this spring.
Dan Durkin covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @djdurkin.
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