Last week, the Chicago Bears worked to cut down the number of tight ends on the roster. In the process, they are ridding the unit of the failure of last season.
The Chicago Bears made a couple of moves last week that made some news. They need to get down to 80 players on the roster so they started to cut that number down. They cut three players who weren’t expected to do much anyway. Those players were linebacker Devante Bond, safety Kentrell Brice, and receiver Alex Wesley.
The Bears had nine tight ends on the roster when the week began. Jimmy Graham, Demetrius Harris, Cole Kmet, J.P. Holtz, Jesper Horsted, Eric Saubert, and Darion Clark. Of those, only Horsted was on the roster before the start of last season. The Bears acquired four of them, Graham, Harris, Kmet, and Clark, this offseason.
The Bears’ tight ends unit will look completely different in 2020. They look like they’re trying to rid themselves of the stench of the tight ends’ horrible performance in 2019. That is a good thing since the unit performed horribly in 2019. All the tight ends combined for 46 receptions for 416 yards and 2 touchdowns. No tight end reached 100 receiving yards for the season. Graham by himself had 38 receptions for 447 yards and 3 touchdowns. He did that despite not being very much involved in the Green Bay Packers offense.
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Shaheen was a huge disappointment for the team. He was their second-round draft pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. At 6-foot-6, 257 pounds, he provides the quarterback a big target. His career in Chicago was marred with injuries, however. He only played in 27 of a possible 48 games in three seasons. He finished with 26 receptions for 249 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Braunecker was mainly used on special teams in his four seasons with the Bears. He played in just 13 percent of the offensive snaps last season, despite the injuries and poor play by the unit. He finished the season with 6 receptions for 59 yards and 1 touchdown.
The tight ends are important in head coach Matt Nagy’s offensive system. They not only provide big targets (especially in the red zone) but also help by moving the chain. If the wide receivers do good work downfield, then the tight ends can make catches underneath. Without the contribution of the tight ends, the Bears struggled to maintain drives. That meant the team’s elite defense was on the field for way too much time. It was impressive that the defense ranked fourth in the league in points allowed with the amount of time it spent on the field.
The new-look tight ends unit looks to change all of that. The players want to make a big contribution to the offense and help win some games and get into the playoffs.