Dion Sims

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bears players Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Dion Sims drop by to talk about the new season

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bears players Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Dion Sims drop by to talk about the new season

SportsTalk Live is on location at Bears Training Camp in Bourbonnais. David Haugh and Adam Jahns join Kap on the panel. Plus Bears players Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Dion Sims drop by to talk about the new season, new head coach and playing with Mitch Trubisky.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

 

Will Dion Sims be the Chicago Bears' surprise starter in 2018?

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USA Today

Will Dion Sims be the Chicago Bears' surprise starter in 2018?

The Chicago Bears made a hefty investment in tight end this offseason with the four-year, $32 million contract given to Trey Burton. The former Philadelphia Eagle is expected to man the U-tight end spot for the Bears, a role made famous by Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce.

Burton's addition has called Dion Sims' role into question only one year removed from Sims being the high-priced free agent. General manager Ryan Pace signed him to a three-year, $18 million contract last offseason, but his first year in Chicago didn't go as hoped. He started 14 games and managed only 15 catches for 180 yards and one touchdown. Hardly the kind of production expected from a player with his price tag, even if he's more of an in-line tight end.

The good news for Sims is coach Matt Nagy needs more than just Burton in his starting lineup. Sims will battle second-year player Adam Shaheen for the primary in-line role.

Sims was recently tabbed as the player most likely to become a surprise starter for the Bears in the fall.

Don't write off Sims just yet, because the tight end fills a certain niche within Nagy's offense. Sims can still be a factor in two-tight end sets and the running game, as his blocking makes him an ideal in-line option. 

Nagy and the Bears coaching staff will have unique depth to work with at tight end. Burton brings the most athletic ability and playmaking upside to the position group, but the combination of all three gives the Bears offense more options and targets in the passing game no matter who's on the field. That's a really good problem for second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to have.

The recent re-signing of Zach Miller will help all three as well. He'll be able to serve as a quasi-coach while he continues his recovery from the leg injury he suffered last season.

Bears still see Dion Sims as a valuable piece to their offensive puzzle

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USA Today Sports Images

Bears still see Dion Sims as a valuable piece to their offensive puzzle

Dion Sims is still here, which is the outcome he expected but perhaps wasn’t a slam dunk — at least to those outside the walls at Halas Hall. 

The Bears could’ve cut ties with Sims prior to March 16 and saved $5.666 million against the cap, quite a figure for a guy coming off a disappointing 2017 season (15 catches, 180 yards, one touchdown). But the Bears are sticking with Sims, even after splashing eight figures to land Trey Burton in free agency earlier this year. 

“In my mind, I thought I was coming back,” Sims said. “I signed to be here three years and that’s what I expect. But I understand how things go and my job is come out here and work hard every day and play with a chip on my shoulder to prove myself and just be a team guy.”

The Bears signed Sims to that three-year, $18 million contract 14 months ago viewing him as a rock-solid blocking tight end with some receiving upside. The receiving upside never materialized, and his blocking was uneven at times as the Bears’ offense slogged through a bleak 11-loss season. 

“The situation we were in, we weren’t — we could’ve done a better job of being successful,” Sims said. “Things didn’t go how we thought it would. We just had to pretty much try to figure out how to come together and build momentum into coming into this year. I just think there were a lot of things we could have done, but because of the circumstances we were limited a little bit. 

“… It was a lot of things going on. Guys hurt, situations — it was tough for us. We couldn’t figure it out, along with losing, that was a big part of it too.”

Sims will be given a fresh start in 2018, even as Adam Shaheen will be expected to compete to cut into Sims’ playing time at the “Y” tight end position this year. The other side of that thought: Shaheen won’t necessarily slide into being the Bears’ primary in-line tight end this year. 

Sims averaged 23 receptions, 222 yards and two touchdowns from 2014-2016; that might be a good starting point for his 2018 numbers, even if it would represent an improvement from 2017. More important, perhaps, is what Sims does as a run blocker — and that was the first thing Nagy mentioned when talking about how Sims fits into his offense. 

“The nice thing with Dion is that he’s a guy that’s proven to be a solid blocker,” Nagy said. “He can be in there and be your Y-tight end, but yet he still has really good hands. He can make plays on intermediate routes. He’s not going to be anybody that’s a downfield threat — I think he knows that, we all know that — but he’s a valuable piece of this puzzle.”