Free Agent Breakdown: Bears Sign WR Domenik Hixon

By Adam Hoge-

What happened: The Bears signed wide receiver Domenik Hixon to a one-year deal Thursday. Hixon, 29, spent last season with the Panthers after five years with the Giants. He originally came into the league with the Denver Broncos.

How it affects the Bears’ salary cap: Terms of the deal are not yet known, but Hixon likely didn’t command too much money, so the cap impact is minimal. It may have an impact on whether the Bears keep either Eric Weems or Earl Bennett, though. Cutting Weems would save $1.1 million, while cutting Bennett would save $2.45 million.

How Hixon fits the system: After catching 39 passes for 567 yards and two touchdowns in 2012, Hixon only had seven catches last season with the Panthers. He’ll likely contribute on special teams and has worked as a returner in the past, although he didn’t have any returns with the Panthers last year and hasn’t had a kick return since 2009 when he was with the Giants.

What’s ahead: This is a depth/special teams move, but the impact on Weems and/or Bennett will be interesting. This seems like it would affect Weems more, as Hixon likely won’t come in and start piling up receptions, but if the Bears are comfortable moving Marquess Wilson into the No. 3 receiver role, Bennett could be released sooner rather than later. Stay tuned.

How this affects the Bears’ NFL Draft plan: It’s very unclear what the Bears’ plans are for their return game. Maybe they feel like running back Michael Ford can handle those duties, but a pick being used on a wide receiver/returner type can’t be ruled out. The Hixon signing doesn’t necessarily change anything.

Adam Hoge covers the Bears for and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.

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