Despite their desperate need for reinforcements, it was still somewhat of a surprise to see the Bears jump so quickly on signing veteran tight end Jimmy Graham. Graham, 33, was one of the game's best tight ends during the prime of his career, but has since seen a decline in production after leaving the Seahawks in 2018.
On top of that, the two-year, $16 million contract given to Graham is, so far, the second-largest contract given to a tight end this offseason. Only Austin Hooper, who drew plenty of attention from the Bears also, got a larger deal (4/$42 million). It's a curious investment from Ryan Pace, given how slowly the tight end market has moved so far. Just today, free agent Eric Ebron got this deal – the market's third largest – from Pittsburgh:
Former Colts TE Eric Ebron is going to the Steelers on a two-year, $12 million deal, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 20, 2020
While Ebron is also coming off one of his worst seasons, the ex-Colts tight end is four years younger than Graham and only two years removed from a Pro Bowl appearance. Predictably, the Ebron news didn't sit too well with Bears Twitter:
Jimmy Graham cost the Bears more than the Steelers paid Eric Ebron. Neither is great, but one is 26 years old and was decently productive two years ago. The other is ... neither of those things.— Robert Mays (@robertmays) March 20, 2020
.@LaurenceWHolmes didn't take the news well that Eric Ebron reached a 2-year, $12-million deal with the Steelers.— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) March 20, 2020
Holmes: "Exactly who were the #Bears bidding against for Jimmy Graham?"
He's continuing with Bears talk now: https://t.co/6pC174BHJJ pic.twitter.com/NJgxzdOQDE
FWIW I woulda rather had Ebron for that money but considering the other deals today, he might have wanted more. Graham isn’t a great player and that isn’t a small amount of money but the Bears need *someone* to play TE— Jeremy Layton (@JeremyLayt0n) March 16, 2020
How did the Bears pay more for Jimmy Graham than Eric Ebron - who is way younger and better? https://t.co/eSBLBCvHwK— Ari Alexander (@AriA1exander) March 20, 2020