Pace Sounds Like He’s About to Take a Chance on a Top Tight End

Jason Lieser at the Chicago Sun-Times bags on the Bears for releasing Trey Burton.

“[A] risky bet at tight end gets even riskier. Before last week, it looked like the Bears’ plan was to hope Burton got back to how he played in 2018 — a career-best 54 catches, 569 yards and six touchdowns — and/or Jimmy Graham suddenly emerged from his three-year slide at 33.

“Now it’s Graham or bust. At least that’s how the rest of the world sees it.

“‘There are some guys in that tight end room that are very intriguing and interesting for us,’ Pace said. ‘But also it’s a good tight end draft.’

“The six returning tight ends have a combined total of 61 career catches, and Demetrius Harris’ best output was 18 catches in 2017.

“And almost no one thinks this is a good draft for tight ends.”

Let me say  up front that I mostly agree with Lieser here.  Keeping Adam Shaheen, who has shown nothing since he was drafted in 2017, while throwing away Trey Burton, who has at least shown that he can be productive, seems to me to be a contradiction.

I understand that Burton’s got a relatively high salary and the Bears are up against the cap.  But perhaps they would have more cap room if they hadn’t chosen to throw $9 million guaranteed at a tight end who is over 30 and in decline.

Having said that, I’ll allow that “productive” is a relative term.  Availability is the best ability and Burton certainly has not been that, having missed the 2018 playoffs and all of 2019 with injuries.  Burton finished what was for all practical purposes his only season, 2018, with 54 catches for 569 yards.  That’s hardly star quality.

Burton’s signing combined with Shaheen’s less than impressive resume to this point compounds and highlights the problems that Pace has had evaluating the position.  Add the apparent misses on Mitch TrubiskyKevin White and Leonard Floyd and you aren’t going to get much positive press nowadays.

As for the draft, I found Pace’s comment about the tight end class to be interesting.  As Lieser says, the class has been almost universally panned.

General managers are often misleading before the draft but they rarely out right lie.   If Pace thinks it’s a good tight end class, I’d say that there’s a chance that he’s thinking of one earlier than most people would expect.

Go against the common wisdom and draft a really good, impact player at the position and no one will be talking about Burton in two years.

Just don’t be wrong.  Again.

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