On Tuesday, the Chicago Bears signed former fourth-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons, wide receiver Justin Hardy. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the signing, but details of the contract are not yet available.
The 29-year-old wideout played his college ball at East Carolina, where he totaled over 4,500 yards and 35 touchdows across four seasons. At the NFL combine, he measured 5-foot-10 and weighed in at 192 pounds. He ran a 4.56 40-yard dash.
In 2015, Hardy was drafted 107th overall by the Falcons. He has 98 catches for 967 yards in his five-year NFL career. His best season came in 2017 when he caught 21 of 31 targets for 224 yards and three touchdowns. Hardy did not play an NFL snap in 2020. He has graded out well as a run blocker, achieving run block grades from PFF of 89.2 and 83.2 in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Additionally, Hardy has experience playing both outside as well as in the slot.
Hardy has averaged 145 special teams snaps per season (2015-2019), with 20 career punt returns (all coming in 2018) and five career kick returns.
He may just serve as a training camp body, but he can certainly push Riley Ridley and Javon Wims for the final wide receiver roster spot. His special teams experience and strong run blocking grades could serve him well, as the Bears currently lack wide receiver size, blocking ability, and experience playing on punt and kick coverage units.