The Trey Burton experiment has seemingly come to an end.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport is reporting that the Bears will release Burton:
Source: The #Bears are releasing TE Trey Burton. Another accomplished veteran on the market.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 17, 2020
While it's not entirely surprising news, the timing of Burton's release is somewhat unconventional. Since coming to Chicago on a four-year, $32 million contract before the 2018 season, Burton's been largely a disappointment in Matt Nagy's offense. He put up respectable numbers (54 catches, 569 yards, six touchdowns) in 2018, but lingering injuries cost him half of last season. While he appeared in eight games, Burton only started five, and ended the year with 14 catches for 84 yards and no touchdowns.
Monetarily, the Bears will swallow a not-insignifcant portion of Burton's contract. According to The Athletic's Adam Jahns, it will be a post-June 1 release, meaning the Bears will save $2.8 million against the cap. However, Burton had $4 million in guarantees coming his way this year and will count for over $5 million against the cap.
After finishing last year's 8-8 campaign with historically bad production out of the tight end spot, Ryan Pace was aggressive on the free agent market and brought in veteran Jimmy Graham on a two-year, $16 million deal. The two aren't identical players; Burton is more of a traditional 'U' while Graham's considered to be more of a hybrid end. For the tea leaf readers among you, releasing a starting tight end one week before the NFL Draft probably isn't coincidental.
The move leaves the Bears with nine tight ends on the current roster: Jimmy Graham, Adam Shaheen, Ben Braunecker, Demetrius Harris, Jesper Horsted, Dorian Clark, J.P. Holtz, Dax Raymond, and Eric Saubert.