The days of the regular traditional fullback in the NFL are all but gone. So often now, instead of using a roster spot on a player that’s limited in versatility, many teams instead deploy a tight end in a set package or individual play as a fullback, offering them a multitude of possibilities on offense. It’s the nature of the efficient beast in roster building.
Given that no one can be quite sure how the Chicago Bears will work their no doubt new heavy-set offense in 2017, late May waiver claim fullback, Michael Burton, might face tall odds to stick with Chicago unless he can prove his skill set worthy.
Experience: Third season
Weight: 247 pounds
Contract and salary cap
Burton is on the third year of a four-year $2.28 million dollar contract originally signed with the Detroit Lions in 2015. Should he make the Bears roster he’ll carry a $615,000 dollar cap hit in 2017 according to Over The Cap.
Reason for improvement in 2017
By most respective measures, Burton is a solid fullback who gets the job done. In 2017 he officially started his first seven career games with the Lions and even scored one receiving touchdown out of the backfield. He’s a quality blocker whose smart and patient and certainly isn’t the worst of his dying position.
Reason for regression in 2017
Yet as noted, the sole designation of a fullback is going by the wayside in professional football. Burton is a good player but he really needs to stick out among a deep Bears tight end group of Adam Shaheen, Dion Sims, and Zach Miller that could instead do his job while platooning together. Easier said than done when you see Chicago’s investments play out on paper.
Final roster odds
Unless Burton proves to be the second coming of a bruising ball carrier such as Mike Alstott, I don’t see him making the final Bears 53-man roster. Bourbonnais has to be a showcase for ability he hasn’t yet displayed. Burton’s talents alone aren’t special enough that they can’t be done by one of Chicago’s three primary tight ends.
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for the Rock River Times and is an editor for Windy City Gridiron. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.