Bears

Is Bears TE Trey Burton on the chopping block?

Is Bears TE Trey Burton on the chopping block?

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. 

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Ranking the Bears' NFL Draft needs in the aftermath of free agency

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USA Today

Ranking the Bears' NFL Draft needs in the aftermath of free agency

Ryan Pace always says he drafts the best player available and doesn’t draft for need. It’s the right thing to say. It wouldn’t exactly send a good message if he said the Bears drafted for need because that implies he passed up on a better player to fill a hole on the roster. 

But David Montgomery was a “need” pick last year. So were James Daniels and Anthony Miller in 2018. You can argue Roquan Smith and Mitch Trubisky filled positions of need in 2017 and 2018, too. The point is, Pace does use his highest picks to fill needs, often paired with cheap, short-term free agent signings. 

So let’s follow the money and see if we can find a roadmap for the direction Pace will take, specifically with the Bears’ two second-round picks (Nos. 43 and 50) in April’s NFL Draft. We'll start with the least likely position and move on to the most likely in the gallery here:

Ranking the positions the Bears will target in the NFL Draft

NFL Owners vote to confirm an expanded playoff field for the 2020 season

NFL Owners vote to confirm an expanded playoff field for the 2020 season

Here's a bit of good news for football fans who haven't heard much lately

Playoff expansion has long been discussed by owners, and it's not a surprising bit of news given the recent approval of a new collective bargaining agreement that focuses heavily on the expansion of not just the playoffs, but the regular season as well. 

Starting this season, seven teams will make the playoffs, with only the #1 seed earning a first-round bye. It also means that Wild Card weekend will feature three games per day, which fans certainly aren't going to complain about. So the good news is that more football is coming – the bad news is that we don't necessarily know when.  

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