LAKE FOREST – One of the greatest needs for the Bears this offseason is an impact player at the tight end since those at the position struggled with injuries and inconsistency in 2019.
On Monday, as the NFL free agency period gets into full swing, it appears the Bears have made a major move to address this issue.
Per Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Bears will sign five-time Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham to a two-year, $16 million dollar contract.
The Bears cannot confirm the move until the start of the new league year on Wednesday.
A ten-year NFL veteran, Graham has played for the Saints, Seahawks, and most recently the Packers. He spent the last two seasons in Green Bay, making 38 catches for 477 yards and three touchdowns during the 2019 season.
Perhaps a change of scenery will help Graham, who had his lowest catch total since his rookie year of 2010 last year with the Packers. He had 55 catches for 636 yards and two touchdowns in the 2018 season, which came after a ten touchdown season with the Seahawks in 2017.
Graham’s most productive years came as a member of the Saints from 2010-2014 when he made 386 catches for 4,752 yards and 51 touchdowns. That included his 2013 season when he made 86 catches for 1,215 yards and an NFL-high 16 touchdowns on his way to being named a first-team All-Pro.
Perhaps the Bears are hoping that Graham can rediscover those earlier days as he comes to Chicago and a tight end group that has many questions heading into 2020.
Trey Burton, who was signed in 2018 to be the primary player at that spot, endured an injury-riddled 2019 season in which he played just eight games, making 14 catches and no touchdowns.
Adam Shaheen, who was taken in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, had yet to reach his potential and also had a bad season in 2019. Like Burton, injuries limited him to eight games as he made just nine catches for 74 yards before going on IR in November.
Because of that, reserves Ben Braunecker, JP Holtz, and Jesper Horsted had to carry a lot of the load at the position in the second half of the season.
While his production isn’t what it was earlier in his career, Graham has played in all 16 games the last four years.