Source: Bears interested in Furrey
Contrary to the perception that they're not addressing the position, the Chicago Bears could actually be working behind the scenes to bring in a veteran receiver.
According to a league source, Chicago has recently been in contact with representatives for unrestricted free-agent receiver Mike Furrey. Given his familiarity with offensive coordinator Mike Martz's system, in addition to his history with Bears coach Lovie Smith and assistant head coach Rod Marinelli, the acquisition of Furrey would seem to be a logical move.
Furrey's rookie year (2003) with St. Louis came during Smith's final season as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the Rams. Furrey worked with Martz from 2003 to 2005, when Martz was the Rams' coach, then again in 2006 and 2007, when Martz was offensive coordinator in Detroit and Marinelli was head coach (2006-08).
Martz, Smith and receivers coach Darryl Drake spoke with Furrey's on a conference call April 21, the day before the draft started, according to the source, with the coaches saying they'd meet later with general manager Jerry Angelo to see if the club could bring the receiver aboard.
Furrey's agent spoke to Angelo on April 22, according to the source. Angelo inquired as to whether Furrey would be willing to accept a deal for the veteran minimum. Furrey indicated he'd be willing to work with the club to make a deal go through. The source said that Angelo later told Furrey he didn't plan on making any moves until at least after rookie minicamp this weekend.
Furrey then received a call from Martz on Thursday morning, with the offensive coordinator saying the staff planned to continue to try to convince Angelo to consummate the move.
Furrey produced his two best seasons (2006 and 2007) as a pro in Martz's offense. Furrey ranked second in the league in receptions (98) in 2006, and followed that up in 2007 with a 61-catch season.
The 6-0, 195-pound Furrey played in all 16 games last season for the Cleveland Browns, catching 23 passes. It's possible he'll return to the Browns.
Furrey would bring versatility to the Bears -- partially due to his background as a two-way player in the Arena Football League -- in addition to veteran leadership. Furrey, 32, has started at receiver and safety in the NFL. Considering the club's current logjam at safety, it's likely the Bears are possibly exploring an opportunity for Furrey at receiver.
The lack of familiarity with Martz's offense among the club's current receivers also makes a possible play for Furrey seem like a practical move. The club could benefit from Furrey's sure hands and elusiveness from the slot. He would also be able to assume a role as somewhat of a coach on the field, which could prove vital, given that all but one of the club's receivers -- Rashied Davis -- have accrued less than five seasons of experience.
According to the source, Chicago is Furrey's preferred destination because he'd like to stay in the Midwest. He's from Galion, Ohio. The receiver/safety is currently working in Florida with renowned trainer Tom Shaw.
Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com.