Why Jesper Horsted deserves a bigger role on offense

Jesper Horsted

Rookie quarterback Justin Fields' first career touchdown pass was to tight end Jesper Horsted.

Horsted played in his first game with the Chicago Bears since the 2019 season. He made the 53-man roster in September after impressing the Bears' front office with a three-touchdown reception preseason game against the Tennessee Titans.

Horsted became an instant player to watch after making a one-handed catch and eventual touchdown on a pass thrown by Nick Foles. Two weeks later, Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy welcomed Horsted to the team in a moment he'd never forget.

The 24-year-old was unable to start this season due to being inactive, but that all changed during Week 5 against the Las Vegas Raiders when Fields found Horsted in traffic for a 2-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. The Bears went on to win their third game of the season 20-9 in front of a crowd that featured many Bears fans.

"I'm not used to playing away games where you have a crowd that can rival a home crowd," Horsted told media after the game. "And especially for this game they were making so much noise, you know, which really disturbs the opposing offense. And you saw a lot of penalties that are caused solely because of that. So, it's great."

In just one game, Horsted has been more productive offensively than tight end Jimmy Graham this season.

Graham has one reception in two games and only took 14 snaps during the opening game against the Los Angeles Rams.


Graham played 20% of the Bears' snaps in that game. He played nearly 60% in 2019.

The Bears currently have Cole Kmet as the starting tight end, using Graham primarily as a red-zone target. But if Graham continues to take less snaps this season, is he really worth all the money he's making just to be used in the red zone?

The 34-year-old signed a two year, $16 million contract with the Bears in March 2020 and also received a $6 million signing bonus. In September 2021, the Bears restructured Graham's contract, converting $5.825 million into a signing bonus and created $4.66 million in cap space.

But Horsted just proved that he deserves more playing time and even a chance to take over Graham's role down the line.

Horsted finished with three touchdowns on five receptions and 104 yards during Week 3 of preseason. Graham played in Week 2 against Mitch Trubisky and the Buffalo Bills, making one catch for five yards.

At 6'3 and 237 pounds, Horsted makes it hard for defenders to get the ball away from him in the end zone.

Horsted was a highly-touted wide receiver at Princeton University. In 2018, Horsted set Princeton records for touchdown catches (28) and receptions (196), earning All-America honors while being named a finalist for the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year Award.

His ability to catch the ball — whether it's with both hands or one — makes him a threat to any opposing defense. Give Horsted more targets and his role will improve this season.

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