Could Higgins or Hopkins be possibility for Bears in 2023?

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The Bears traded for Chase Claypool at the NFL trade deadline partly because of the weak free-agent wide receiver class. The hope is that Claypool and Darnell Mooney will become a potent one-two punch for quarterback Justin Fields.

That plan, as of this moment, remains theoretical.

The Bears still need a true No. 1 receiver, someone who can help elevate Fields' game entering Year 3. Over the past three seasons, we have seen Stefon Diggs, A.J. Brown, and Tyreek Hill help Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, and Tua Tagovailoa each take a big step forward.

There is simply no replacement for an elite No. 1 receiver.

"I think it’s, you affect the way a defensive coordinator calls the game," Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said about the impact an elite receiver has on a defense. "And I think Justin affects the way defensive coordinators call the game, and so the more players you have on the field that are like that, I mean that makes it really challenging. And that’s the team … you take what [Brown and DeVonta Smith] did last week, right? You have two receivers going for all those yards for Philly and a quarterback that ran for a bunch of yards, too. When you have dynamic people it makes it really hard for a defensive coordinator to dial in on anything. So having that upper-echelon receiver obviously creates more opportunities for everybody, not just the other receivers."

Last offseason, three elite receivers were traded in blockbuster moves.

The Kansas City Chiefs sent Hill to the Dolphins, Brown went from the Titans to the Eagles, and the Green Bay Packers traded Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders.

In each case, the team trading the elite receiver got a first-round draft pick back in return.

At the moment, there aren't any surefire No. 1 receivers looking for a chance of scenery. But much like NBA All-Stars, give it time and someone will become disgruntled and force their way out.

Considering the Bears already gave up a high draft pick for Claypool, it seems unlikely they would surrender more draft capital for another receiver this offseason.

But just in case general manager Ryan Poles feels like taking a big swing, let's survey the potential trade targets for this offseason (We'll get to the draft prospects at a later date).

DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals

Hopkins, 30, seems like the most logical candidate to ask out.

After getting blasted in the playoffs last season, the Cardinals are 4-11 and are headed toward what could be an offseason of change.

The Cardinals reportedly are preparing to part ways with general manager Steve Keim, and it's unclear what head coach Kliff Kingsbury's future is with the organization. Star quarterback Kyler Murray has butted heads with Kingsbury, and the offense hasn't evolved much since Kingsbury and Murray arrived in 2019.

Hopkins is 30 and entering the back end of his prime. If he sees things devolving in the desert, he could look to force his way out of town.

Hopkins is due $19.5 million in base salary in 2023. That's not a killer in today's wide receiver market. Considering the average annual value of Keenan Allen and Amari Cooper's deals is $20 million, Hopkins could be considered a steal.

Should the Cardinals trade Hopkins this offseason, it would mean $19.5 million in savings and $11.3 million in dead money. That's not terrible for a team that could likely be headed toward a rebuild.

Given that Hopkins will be 31 in June, the trade compensation for him could be lower than the first- and second-round picks the Raiders gave up for Adams.

It's not likely Hopkins will ask out, but it's not inconceivable.

Mike Evans

Should Tom Brady either retire at the end of this season or head for greener pastures outside of Tampa Bay, Evans could be a name to watch.

If Brady is out of the picture and the Bucs don't find a serviceable replacement at quarterback, Tampa could start a rebuild by dealing the 29-year-old Evans.

RELATED: What Bears can expect in potential trade if they land No. 1 pick

I'd say it's more likely the Bucs will look to a veteran quarterback like Jimmy Garoppolo to replace Brady than go the rebuild route. The NFC South is a winnable division. There's no need to start selling off assets even if the GOAT leaves.

Tee Higgins

A 23-year-old on a rookie deal, Higgins has thrived alongside Ja'Marr Chae in Cincinnati.

The Bengals will eventually have to make some financial decisions with their roster, but extending Higgins and keeping him locked in with Chase and quarterback Joe Burrow feels like a no-brainer.

If the Bengals' pocketbook gets tight, Higgins could be a target this offseason. There's no doubt the Clemson product will be looking to ink a lucrative extension before the final year of his rookie deal.

Smart money is on him being in Cincinnati for the long haul. But if the Bengals get cheap, the Bears could pounce.

Are any of these options likely? Probably not. Are they possible? Absolutely.

The Bears just need one domino to fall their way and open the door to the elite receiver Fields needs to take the next step on the escalator to greatness.

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