Chicago Bears tight end coach Clancy Barone alluded to Jimmy Graham’s return for the last year of his two-year 16 million dollar contract next season.
“We knew from day one,” said Barone. There was never a doubt that Graham would return next season, according to Barone.
Graham was rumored to be on the chopping block before his contract ended in an attempt to save money from the Bears’ offseason cap issues. However, according to Barone, Graham is here to stay in Chicago next season.
#Bears TE coach Clancy Barone said there was never a doubt that Jimmy Graham would be back this season. “We knew from Day 1.”
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) May 12, 2021
The Bears undoubtedly have cap issues this offseason. According to overthecap.com, the Bears have the second least amount of cap space in the NFL, with just over $200 thousand left in space. The cap issues are a large issue this offseason.
They are so bad that general manager Ryan Pace was forced to release former all-pro cornerback, Kyle Fuller, to save around $20 million in cap space. The Bears were also rumored to have attempted to trade away star defensive tackle Akiem Hicks to clear cap space. However, in terms of Graham’s status through the Bears’ cap frenzy, he is safe.
— SRN Broadcasting (@radiomogul) May 12, 2021
Graham was an invaluable asset for the Bears last season. At first, Graham seemed like an overpaid tight end because of his career decline since leaving the New Orleans Saints. However, his performance last season was important to the offense. He caught 50 of his 76 targets for 456 yards and eight touchdowns, which led the team for receivers.
Graham also recorded a 65.8 catch percentage with the Bears, which is the best of his career since 2016 when Graham was with the Seattle Seahawks. That statistic is important because we know how inaccurate Bears’ quarterbacks have been. The Bears’ quarterbacks last season were on target 75.7 percent of the time. That ranked 20th in the NFL.
Bears quarterbacks also recorded 104 bad throws last season, according to pro-reference statistics. That ranked 24th in the NFL. The Bears also held a 17.4 bad throw percentage, which was bottom tier in the league.
The Bears require a stable tight end to fit into Matt Nagy’s scheme. Just look at how important Travis Kelce is to Andy Reid’s offense, which is the offense Nagy bases his off of.
Cole Kmet has yet to fill the role that Nagy and Pace hope for at the tight end. The 2020 second-rounder only recorded 243 yards and two touchdowns last season from 28 receptions. However, Kmet was invited to “Tight End U,” a tight end summit for the best in the country.
Until Kmet’s rise of stardom, Graham will be the go-to guy at the tight end position for the Bears next season. The Bears did use him a lot, especially in goal-line situations, using a Nagy-patented diamond formation to isolate him on the weak side of the field.