Bears

The Bears have 9 tight ends, and here's why it doesn't matter

The Bears have 9 tight ends, and here's why it doesn't matter

I get it. The Bears have a lot of tight ends. “Eight million,” as ESPN’s Mike Tannenbaum estimated after Cole Kmet apparently tipped the scales Friday night. 

And I get that the Bears have a bit of a history with this

But this is the thing the Bears are being made fun of nationally right now? In late April, four months before rosters have to be trimmed to 53?

Come on.

It got to the point where the first question asked to Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly on a Zoom teleconference this week was about how Kmet would fit in a crowded tight end room. As if the Bears drafted Kmet to compete for a roster spot.

“Having a lot of tight ends on your roster is one thing,” Kelly said. “Having Cole Kmet, that's another.”

[MORE: Brian Kelly pushes back on criticisms of Cole Kmet]

The Bears, right now, have nine tight ends on their roster. They had 10 when Kmet was drafted, but released 2019 practice squad guy Dax Raymond shortly after the draft. 

Currently, the Bears have 87 players on their 90-man offseason roster. They can still add players without having to cut anyone. So why, exactly, does it matter that they have all these tight ends? 

It’s not like the Bears are going to carry all nine on their Week 1 roster. They’ll take five, at most. Kmet and Jimmy Graham are locks. Demetrius Harris is probably going to make it as a versatile backup. And then Ben Braunecker, J.P. Holtz, Jesper Horsted, Eric Saubert, Darion Clark and Adam Shaheen will spend training camp competing to earn one or two final spots on the roster. 

(I’d back Braunecker and Holtz to make the roster right now.)

The Bears can easily cut any of those guys not named Kmet or Graham between now and Labor Day weekend. They probably will trim that group down by the start of training camp, maybe to six or seven max. That’s still a lot — for reference, the Vikings and Packers each have five tight ends on their roster right now — but it’s not a completely crazy amount to have when practices start. 

Fixing a broken tight end room is near the top of the Bears’ to-do list in 2020. It’s an integral position in Matt Nagy’s scheme. The lack of any consistent production from that group played a huge role in sinking this offense in 2019. 

[MORE: Adam Hoge's 10 Bears things]

The Bears have, so far, gone about trying to fix it by signing Harris and Graham and drafting Kmet. Questioning those moves is one thing (because this column is not a defense of the Bears' tight end situation); questioning the Bears having a billion tight ends is another. 

So this is why, every time I see this joke about the Bears having a trillion tight ends (it goes up every time!), all I can think is:

Who cares?

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Under Center Podcast: Should Bears have added Cam Newton over Nick Foles?

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Should Bears have added Cam Newton over Nick Foles?

JJ Stankevitz, Cam Ellis and Adam Hoge debate and discuss which quarterback GM Ryan Pace should have gone after this offseason.

Later, they discuss hurdles the NFL still has to go through in order to start the season, and also dive into Jay Cutler's chicken mystery.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Bears news and analysis.

(1:51) - Did the Bears make the right decision by going after Nick Foles?

(7:47) - Is Cam Newton's upside bigger than Foles'?

(18:00) - What can the NFL learn from MLB's return-to-play plan?

(30:23) - NFL will shorten the preseason to two games

(37:00) - Bears coverage will change this year

(45:13) - Jay Cutler's missing chickens

Listen here or below.

Under Center Podcast

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Robert Quinn says he wants to be 'icing on the cake' for Bears defense

Robert Quinn says he wants to be 'icing on the cake' for Bears defense

The failures of former Bears first-round pick Leonard Floyd have been well documented. His inability to develop into the kind of pass rusher GM Ryan Pace was expecting when he selected him with the ninth overall pick in 2016 forced Chicago to make a massive investment in the position this offseason when they signed Robert Quinn to a five-year, $70 million deal.

The Bears' decision to move on from Floyd was the result of his absolute failure to consistently pressure opposing quarterbacks. He managed just 18.5 sacks in four seasons in Chicago, including a career-low three in 2019. 

Quinn represents a massive upgrade opposite Khalil Mack, and he told Terrell Owens on the 'Getcha Popcorn Ready' podcast that he wants to be the missing piece on what could be a championship-caliber defense.

"They already have the talent there," Quinn said of the Bears defense. "I'm just trying to bring the icing on the cake. I believe in my talents. I know what I bring to the table and again I know what they had there already. 

"I think with that formula, we can do something special this year."

Quinn had a bounce-back season in 2019 with the Cowboys when he registered 11.5 sacks. It was his first season with more than 10 sacks since 2014, but it wasn't a fluke. Quinn's battled injuries over the last few years (which is obviously a concern moving forward), but when healthy, he's one of the game's top sack artists.

Quinn had a remarkable 19 sacks in 2013 with the Rams.

Quinn's presence off the edge will be a boon for Mack, who's coming off his worst season since his rookie year. His 8.5 sacks broke his streak of four-straight seasons with 10.5 sacks or more. Mack's down season was proof that he isn't Superman, although he sometimes plays like it, and that he needs a complementary edge rusher who can take some focus of pass protection away from him. Quinn will be that guy.

The only thing that will prevent Quinn from making a massive impact with the Bears is his health. He's played a full 16 games just once in the last five years; he appeared in 14 games in 2019.