Bears

Bears Season in Review: Adam Shaheen

Bears Season in Review: Adam Shaheen

The Bears 2019 season was a lesson in disappointment in almost every way possible, from the quarterback to the offensive line and even the vaunted pass rush. But no position underwhelmed more than tight end, and Adam Shaheen was a big reason why.

The former second-round pick of the 2017 NFL draft failed to make any impact whatsoever. And that's not hyperbole. He appeared in just eight games, registering nine catches for 74 yards and zero touchdowns. Believe it or not, his stat line was an improvement over 2018 when he had just five catches for 48 yards in six games.

Shaheen's career narrative has been defined by injury, and it continued last season. He was placed on injured reserve in late-November with an apparent foot injury, marking the second-straight season that his year came to an early end.

It's been a remarkably disappointing career for Shaheen so far, who was viewed as a Rob Gronkowski-lite coming out of Ashland University. His jump from the small-school ranks to the NFL was expected to include a steep learning curve, but after three forgettable seasons, it's safe to say Shaheen's failed in almost every way possible.

The Bears are expected to bring Shaheen back for 2020 and he'll likely be in a training-camp battle for a roster spot. Chicago is going to add more talent to the position via either free agency or the NFL Draft and it wouldn't be a surprise if Shaheen begins the offseason schedule last on the depth chart.

It's been an unfortunate outcome for a draft pick that seemed so promising in 2017. Instead of growing into a fixture in the Bears' lineup, Shaheen will be left to fight for his NFL future this summer.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.

These 3 tight ends improved their stock at the 2020 NFL Combine

These 3 tight ends improved their stock at the 2020 NFL Combine

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace said earlier this week that he is going to explore every avenue when it comes to upgrading the team's tight end group. The 2020 NFL Draft will be a great place to look for the pass-catcher Matt Nagy's offense needs at the position, and three prospects elevated their draft stock at the 2020 NFL Combine.

Stephen Sullivan, LSU

Sullivan, the wide receiver-turned-tight end, was one of the most impressive players at the 2020 Senior Bowl, and he continued his rise up the draft board with a strong showing in Indianapolis.

Sullivan, who weighed in at 6-5, 248 pounds, ran a 4.66 40-yard dash, which tied for second-fastest among all tight ends. His 36.5-inch vertical jump is an elite number, too.

He was smooth in the on-field drills and showcased his effortless catching style. 

Sullivan won't be an early-round prospect. He's probably going to slip into Day 3. And if he does, the Bears have to give him a long, hard look. He has a chance to be the biggest sleeper in the draft (regardless of position) who can become an impact playmaker in the NFL.

Brycen Hopkins, Purdue

Hopkins, like Sullivan, ran a 4.66 and looked every bit the part of a move tight end. He was smooth on downfield routes and caught the ball cleanly (for the most part). One of the concerns surrounding Hopkins is his tendency to double-catch. He did a nice job quieting that worry just a bit.

Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri

Albert 'O' was the big winner with his blazing 4.49 40-time, which ranks among the 10-best 40-times for a tight end since 1999, per the Mock Draftable database.

'O' is coming off a very disappointing season when he totaled just 26 catches for 306 yards and six touchdowns. But he lost his quarterback from 2018 -- Drew Lock -- and never got into an offensive rhythm in 2019.

It wasn't a perfect day for him, however. He loafed the gauntlet drill and continued the narrative around his game that suggests he doesn't give 100% effort on every down. But it's impossible to ignore his speed at 6-5, 258 pounds.

There's a 'strong sense' Chicago Bears will add a veteran QB in free agency

There's a 'strong sense' Chicago Bears will add a veteran QB in free agency

The NFL Combine isn't just about timing draft prospects in the 40-yard dash or measuring how high they can jump. It's also when free-agency plans begin crystallizing with general managers meeting with agents of prospective veteran targets.

And that's why the rumors that come from Indianapolis often have more value than any other time In the offseason. 

In the case of the Bears, those rumors are beginning to swirl around the quarterback position.

It's important to pay close attention to the words Fowler used: The Bears are in the market for a veteran who can push Mitch Trubisky, not necessarily replace him. 

Ryan Pace has always preached competition as the key to bringing the best out of every player. There's been no competition for Trubisky since he unseated Mike Glennon for the starting job as a rookie in 2017, and while that's normally the case for a quarterback drafted as highly as Trubisky, he's been given more than enough time to hold the presumed-starter role.

So who will the Bears target? Players like Marcus Mariota, Case Keenum and Andy Dalton are the first who come to mind. They won't cost nearly as much to acquire as players like Tom Brady, Teddy Bridgewater or Jameis Winston and all profile as quality backups who can emerge as capable starters, much like Ryan Tannehill was for the Titans in 2019.

Fowler's tweet also suggests the Bears may not be in the market for a quarterback early in the 2020 NFL draft. If, in fact, they add a veteran passer in free agency, it would be a waste of a second-round pick to select a rookie who'd, at best, be QB3 in 2020. They'd be better off focusing on a developmental prospect toward the end of Day 3.

One thing seems pretty obvious at this point: The Bears will have a quarterback competition in training camp, even if it isn't touted as one publicly. Trubisky won't be handed the starting job in 2020; he'll have to earn it, and that may be what brings the very best out of him.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.