Chicago Bears

Hub Arkush: Jimmy Graham? Bears hardly make splash

Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham runs past San Francisco 49ers free safety Jimmie Ward during the second half of the NFL NFC Championship football game Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham runs past San Francisco 49ers free safety Jimmie Ward during the second half of the NFL NFC Championship football game Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

On one hand, when it comes to the Bears recent history at tight end, getting a guy who has caught 649 passes for 7,883 yards and 74 TDs over the past 10 seasons should be pretty exciting.

It is also worth noting that for a guy with a rep for being injury prone, he isn’t. New Bears tight end Jimmy Graham has missed only seven games in 10 seasons, played all 16 seven times – including the past four seasons in a row – and played fewer than 15 games only once, in 2015 in Seattle, when he played in 11.

The problem is that although he did put up a 10-touchdown season three years ago, his last in Seattle, his production has declined each season since 2013 – with the possible exception of 2018, his first year in Green Bay, when he had 55 catches for 636 yards and two TDs receiving.

Although Graham has lost a step if not more, the Packers didn’t release him last week because he can’t contribute anymore. They moved on because he couldn’t contribute enough for what they were paying him.

The big drawback with Graham today or Graham in his prime is in spite of his 6-foot-7, 265-pound frame, he is a barely mediocre in-line blocker, willing but ineffective.

On the flip side, he still is a threat to line up anywhere on the line of scrimmage or in the slot, and he is an impressive red zone weapon.

Had he not posted up Deon Bush in the end zone in the season opener last year, there’s a good chance the Packers don’t win.

Reports state that Graham will receive $9 million guaranteed as part of his new two-year, $16 million contract. So for a starting “Y” tight end, he should be relatively cap friendly this year, and if they move on after the season, he won’t be a cap breaker next year.

Although the Bears don’t have a difference maker at the position, in Dax Raymond, Jesper Horsted and J.P. Holtz, they’re long on prospects who could stand some mentoring from the five-time Pro Bowler, and if the team uses one of its second-round picks on the best tight end prospect in the draft, this could make sense.

It isn’t a move worth celebrating, but it could turn out to be one of those little moves that ends up paying nice dividends.

Let’s wait and see.

If you really need something to be upset about, there is plenty in the Bears’ quarterback dalliances on Day 1 of legal tampering worth worrying about.

Although we don’t know how serious any of it has been to date, multiple reports suggest the Bears’ focus under center has been on Teddy Bridgewater, Nick Foles and Andy Dalton.

There is no indication how serious they are about any of them, but it still leaves two areas of significant concern.

The first is that although Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy have been adamant that “Mitch is their starter,” with what it would take to sign Bridgewater and the contract Foles would bring with him, there is no way the Bears would be acquiring either to be a backup to Trubisky.

Although there’s nothing to suggest Dalton would be an upgrade, at least his existing contract wouldn’t be a long-term albatross as a backup, but the other two’s would.

They can pretend they see Bridgewater or Foles as competition for Trubisky, but the money says something different, and if they’re ready to quit on Trubisky. ...

Problem No. 2 is that the two quarterbacks who appear to be much better fits for the role we were told Pace was seeking to fill may both be off the market now.

If in fact Marcus Mariota and Case Keenum sign the deals they are reported to be ready to ink with the Raiders and Browns, respectively, there isn’t much left for the Bears at quarterback.

And if Mariota is a Raider, the Las Vegas club won’t be trading Derek Carr at least this season.

There still is plenty of talent out there, but there is little to be excited about regarding the Bears’ first day at the market.

• Hub Arkush is Shaw Media’s director of football content. Write to him at harkush@profootballweekly.com, and follow him on Twitter @Hub_Arkush.

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