Daniel Brown - Exclusive rights free agent - With the way the Chicago Bears pounced on Brown when he became available last year, I see no reason they won’t bring him back to the team. He ended the 2017 season as the starting tight end, making three starts total in six games. He was targeted 20 times, catching 16 balls for 124 yards and a TD.
He started his career in 2015 as a 225 pound wide receiver for the Ravens, but since his move to tight end, he’s up to 243 pounds. Like most wide outs transitioning to tight end, he has to work on his blocking, but he’s an athletic move TE that could be a match up problem at 6’5”with the ability to run in the 4.6 forty range.
Zach Miller - Signed through 2017 - Miller broke his foot last year, but he seems to be on track to be in camp 100% healthy. He got his cast off and stitches removed on December 12th and he’s been working hard to get ready for the 2017 season. Even though he’s not known for his run blocking, he was missed when he went down lats year. He may not be a mauler at the point of attack, but he’s a smart, positional blocker.
Logan Paulsen - Free agent - It’s time to let Logan go.
Ben Braunecker - Signed through 2017, but then he’s an ERFA - I’m excited to see what an offseason spent training as a professional athlete will do for the 6’4”, 255 pound Braunecker. He has the skill set of a do-anything TE, now he just has to take the next step in his development. He’d be best served working on his strength and blocking technique, as that will be the thing to set himself apart form Miller and Brown.
MyCole Pruitt - Signed through 2017, but then he’s a RFA - The Bears snagged Pruitt late in the 2016 season, and he finished with 1 catch for 6 yard sin two appearances. He did appear in 2 games for the Vikings last year as well, and also in all 16 games of the 2015 season after being their 5th round draft pick. He was a decent blocker in college at SIU, and he’ll need to prove he can do it at the NFL level to stick on the Bears roster in 2017.
2017 OUTLOOK - As much as I like Zach Miller and the potential of the young TEs on the roster, the Bears need to address the position this offseason. Either via the draft (most likely) or by snagging a free agent. Paulsen was supposed to provide a veteran blocking presence, but all he really provided was 6 penalties. Can you tell I wasn’t a fan of Paulsen?
I recently saw a mock draft that had the Bears taking Michigan’s Jake Butt in the 3rd round and I’d be perfectly OK with that. He has to come back from an ACL tear and improve as a blocker, but he proved versatile as the Wolverines lined him up all over the field. Another tight end to keep an eye on is being coached by the Bears at the Senior Bowl, Arkansas’ Jeremy Sprinkle. He’s looked good at practice this week and the 6’4”, 256 pounder will be a mid round selection.
What do you guys think about the Bears’ tight end position in 2017?