Robert Tonyan always knew he'd play for the Bears one day.
The quarterback-turned-tight end and McHenry native finally made that dream a reality Thursday when he signed a one-year contract to play for his hometown team. There were many appealing reasons for Tonyan to leave the Green Bay Packers for a Bears team he believes has the arrow pointing straight up.
Quarterback Justin Fields was chief among them.
"Big fan of the quarterback," Tonyan told Chicago media on a Friday conference call via Zoom.
"I think he’s a mentally strong, young player. That’s hard to do when you come in the league when you have a lot of, whether it’s positive or negative things being said about you in the media, just keeping your cool and playing your game. He progressed so well throughout the year last year. We got to see that being division opponents. He’s staying in there, taking hits, getting up, popping up, kept coming back for more. That’s what you kind of want in a quarterback and a leader, someone who doesn’t quit or back down, playing through injuries or whatever it may be. I’m just super excited to be a part of that."
Tonyan is familiar with Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and his scheme. The 28-year-old tight end knows it fits his skill set well. He's a sure-handed pass-catcher who can give Fields another reliable target in the red zone. Tonyan has only dropped two passes in five seasons, per Pro Football Reference.
Last season, the Bears' offense had a dearth of legitimate pass-catching weapons. With Tonyan and the newly-acquired D.J. Moore on board, Fields has a few more tools in an evolving arsenal.
Tonyan will join a tight-end room headed by Cole Kmet. The 24-year-old got off to a slow start in Year 3 of his NFL career but settled in and exploded for seven touchdowns in the final 10 games, five of which came in a three-game stretch.
Bringing in another quality pass-catching tight end in Tonyan to pair with Kmet should elevate a Bears offense that lacked bite in the passing game last season.
"This offense goes through the tight ends, whether it’s blocking, passing, whatever it is," Tonyan said. "And just a good pair. Cole’s a great tight end. He’s big, strong, and I think that adding that - that can complement me and him. I’m super pumped.
"I’m just excited to get in this building and get things rolling and just be a part of a team that’s ascending in the right direction."
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Catching passes from Fields, reuniting with Getsy, and pairing with Kmet were all selling points for Tonyan to join the Bears.
But it's also home—where Tonyan always planned to achieve his NFL dreams.
"Did I think I’d be a tight end for the Bears? No," Tonyan said about his football journey. "But did I think I’d play for the Bears? Yeah, absolutely. In my brain I was playing for the Bears my whole life."