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?
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.”
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: