Dante Pettis signed with the Chicago Bears last week in a move that’s viewed as another in a long line of NFL transactions involving journeymen looking to catch a break. But for Pettis, a former second-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers, his outlook with the Bears can be better than that.
Pettis will have a chance to make plays in Chicago that weren’t afforded to him late in his tenure in San Francisco or with the New York Giants last season.
“I know his skill set,” Bears wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert said of Pettis at OTAs. “It’s just a matter for everybody else to see what I saw. It’s a guy who can play inside and outside. A smart guy who can come in and learn the offense really quickly and bring some veteran presence. He has some vet savviness to him when he’s running his routes. Every time he had the opportunity to make a play with us with the Giants, he did.”
Pettis’ stat line in 2021 doesn’t look like a guy who had many opportunities in New York. He appeared in just three games and caught 10 of his 16 targets for 87 yards and one touchdown. It’s been a hard fall for a player who looked like a budding star during his rookie season in 2018. Pettis finished that year with 467 yards and five touchdowns, which remain his career highs.
Dante Pettis is more than just a journeyman wide receiver
“I think he’s motivated to play, motivated to make plays,” Tolbert said. “I don’t see him as a guy who is kind of bouncing around and just kind of happy to be in the league. I don’t think that’s him. He wants to go in there and compete and make plays.”
With just Darnell Mooney entrenched as a starter at wide receiver, Pettis’ best chance to revive his career has arrived. He’ll compete with Byron Pringle, Tajae Sharpe, and rookie Velus Jones Jr. for “starter’s” reps, and players like Equanimeous St. Brown and David Moore provide intriguing options. It’s anyone’s guess how the depth chart will shake out once training camp concludes.
“Any situation is about opportunity,” Tolbert said of Chicago’s wide receivers. And he’s right. Now, it’s on Pettis to prove he is prepared and passionate about his.
Bryan is the founder and managing editor of Bears Talk. His previous stops include Bears coverage for NBC Sports Chicago and USA Today. His NFL Draft and Bears coverage has also been featured on The Draft Network.