Addition by subtraction. Sometimes, that's the only way to get better. And in the case of the Chicago Bears' underachieving tight end group, general manager Ryan Pace may have no choice but to move on from 2018 free-agent signing, Trey Burton, this offseason.
According to Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer, Burton could be facing the chopping block over the next couple of months.
Chicago has a tight cap situation, and Burton’s coming off a rough year that ended on IR. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Bears conduct a complete overhaul at his position.
If it wasn't for Burton's prohibitive contract terms, a move like this would be a near-certainty. However, Chicago would be on the hook for $7.5 million if they decide to move on from the oft-injured pass-catcher as opposed to $8.5 million if he's on the roster this season. Despite his underwhelming production, the extra $1 million to keep him around for the chance that he has that kind of year Pace assumed he'd produce in Matt Nagy's offense is probably worth it.
Besides, who else can the Bears realistically turn to at tight end right now?
There are some appealing options in free agency headlined by Falcons emerging star Austin Hooper, but he'll cost even more than the four-year, $32 million contract Burton signed two offseasons ago. The 2020 NFL Draft will offer a cluster of good-looking prospects who Chicago can choose from in the second round, which seems more likely considering the cost control over the next four seasons at a position Pace has already overspent on twice in his tenure as GM (Dion Sims nightmares are very real).
Burton appeared in just eight games last seasons (five starts) and finished the year with 14 catches for 84 yards and zero touchdowns.
If there isn't a massive uptick in production in 2020, it'll be his last as a Bear. His dead-cap figure drops to just $1.75 million if Chicago cuts ties with him in the 2021 offseason.