The Chicago Bears would have looked to upgrade the tight end position regardless of the new head coach, but with Marc Trestman running the show, we now know the type of TE the Bears will be looking for. The tight end in the West Coast Offense is an honest to goodness, viable part of the passing game. That's something we thought we'd be getting with Mike Tice, only the Chicago tight ends weren't the most consistent group.
When you think WCO TEs think Brent Celek, Jermichael Finley, Shannon Sharpe, Tony Gonzalez, and Brent Jones. I don't see that pass caching threat on the current roster, so expect some changes.
Kellen Davis - Signed through 2013 - I don't think any player on the roster elicited more frustration from the fans than Davis did. After, in my opinion, a promising 2011 season, Davis laid an egg. His hands problem was overshadowed by his staying on his feet problem. Davis is due $2.4 million this season, plus a workout bonus of a hundred grand, and his '13 cap hit will be $3.85 million dollars. That's a heck of a lot of change for a guy that was terrible in 2012.
Pro Football Focus ranked 62 TEs that participated in at least 25% of their teams snaps, and Kellen Davis graded out 58th at -8.8. If you look at all 108 TEs that took a snap last year, not one graded out worse than his -10.9 in the pass receiving category. As a blocker he graded out pretty neutrally, but that receiving aspect of his game really drug him down.
I have no idea how the Bears can justify him being on the 2013 roster, but maybe the new coaches will be able to work with his potential. Which reminds me, there's an old coaching motto about potential that I think of when thinking about Davis; "Potential will get you fired."
Matt Spaeth - Signed through 2013 - I like Speath, I think there's a place for him on the 2013 roster. He's not nearly athletic enough to start at TE, but he's a solid blocker, and he'll usually catch the ball. He's making a little over a million for the last year on his deal, not bad for a #2, so unless he's severely outplayed in camp, my guess is he sticks around in 2013.
PFF had him graded out as the best TE on the Chicago roster, and surprisingly as the 7th best TE in the NFL. His 430 snaps were around half of what the other guys had that were graded in the top 10, but that actually makes his +10.6 all the more impressive to me. His +10.9 in the run blocking category was the highest grade of any tight end.
Kyle Adams -Signed through 2013 - I've always liked what Adams' has shown in preseason, but he's never really had an extended time on game day to show what he can do. He's under contract, so expect him to be in camp battling to show the new coaching staff what he has. And who knows, with a new regime, Adams might surprise.
Adams had only 154 snaps according to PFF, and he graded out with a -5.4. He saw action in 15 games, and he graded out neutrally or positively in 12 of them, so it's safe to say that his 2 drops and his QB hit allowed really drug down his overall grade. PFF also had Adams with a few plays at fullback, and he graded out +1.8 in those 22 snaps.
Fendi Onobun - Signed through 2013 - The Bears are Onobun's 6th team, and he keeps getting jobs because of his athleticism, but he keeps losing jobs due to his inexperience in football. He played 4 years of college basketball at Arizona averaging just 1.8 ppg and 1.2 rpg, but it was his lone year playing football at Houston on special teams that got him noticed. Well, that and his 4.48 40 yard dash, and 6'6", 260 pound frame.
Gabe Miller - Signed through 2014 - Miller spent most of last year on the practice squad, but what ever goodwill he built up with Lovie's staff, he'll have to re-earn with Marc Trestman running the show. He's another project type player, with limited TE snaps. He was a DE/LB his last two years at Oregon State, but he was a TE before that. The Chiefs drafted him in the 5th round mostly on his outstanding pro day numbers.
Brody Eldridge - Signed through 2013 - Scouts were high on his blocking coming out of Oklahoma, and the Colts drafted him in the 5th round on the 2010 draft. Eldridge spent a couple years on the Colts roster, a brief amount of time in St. Louis, and this is his his second stint in Chicago. He was the player cut to make room for Josh McCown when Jay Cutler was injured. Phil Emery thought enough of him to re-sign him to a reserve/futures contract.
2013 OUTLOOK - The Bears will probably look to draft a tight end at some point this year. There are two very good TEs that should be available with their 20th selection, but it may make more sense to trade down, pick up an extra pick or two, and grab a TE later.
If they decide to go the free agent route, the Titans Jared Cook will probably be the big fish on the market. The Giants Martellus Bennett also had a very good year, and he may be a cheaper option. Fred Davis and Dustin Keller are both proven players in the NFL, but both are coming of an injury.