Chicago Bears add WR depth with ex-Bronco Fowler

Career backup coming off best season provides Bears insurance

Denver Broncos' Bennie Fowler walks off the field during an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)[]

The Bears’ addition of former Broncos receiver Bennie Fowler might not tip the balance of power in the NFC North, but he’s healthy and has played all 16 games in each of the past three seasons, which makes him a valuable commodity.

Two days after losing Cam Meredith, their No. 1 receiver in 2016, when they declined to match the Saints’ $10 million offer sheet to the restricted free agent, the Bears added some proven depth with Fowler. Meredith missed all of the 2017 season with a torn ACL in his left knee. Fowler’s deal, first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, is for one year.

Undrafted out of Michigan State in 2014, the 6-foot-1, 212-pound Fowler was not tendered by Denver as a restricted free agent after playing in a rotation behind Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders the past three years.

Fowler’s best season was last year, when he posted career highs of 29 catches, 350 receiving yards and three TD receptions, while averaging 12.1 yards a catch. Almost all of his production came from the slot.

Fowler, who will be 27 in June, is a bigger alternative inside to 5-foot-8, 165-pound Taylor Gabriel, who was signed last month to a four-year, $26 million deal as an unrestricted free agent. Fowler also has enough size to back up Allen Robinson and Kevin White outside, although he lacks their speed.