As the madness of 2018 free agency starts to reach a fever pitch, the Bears and general manager Ryan Pace have shown a newfound aggressiveness. That pays off once more as they will officially sign former Eagles' tight end Trey Burton to a four-year $32 million dollar deal, reports NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport.
The focus for the Bears this free agency was always going to be about adding more weapons for Mitchell Trubisky, as well as having more flexibility on offense in general. After adding Allen Robinson earlier this morning, the 26-year-old Burton comes along to the Bears in a typical Swiss Army Knife role. By being a weapon of versatility as he was in Philadelphia for the past two seasons, he helps check off both boxes.
Burton only caught 23 receptions for 248 yards and five touchdowns last season. But his value is not just as a receiver. He isn't the classic No. 2 tight end because he doesn't always play "tight end". He's a jack-of-all-trades that can fill any responsibility akin to being the actual "joker" tight end he is. His value lies in the fact that head coach Matt Nagy can ask him to do most of anything for the Bears' offense, and he'll be more than up to the task.
For example, as he did with those same defending champion Eagles, Burton can moonlight as the lead blocker in the running game. He can work from the slot and outside on routes, creatively finding space as a pass catcher. He can even occasionally line up in-line in double tight end packages with Chicago's potential budding star at the "Y" tight end role in Adam Shaheen. On the extremely rare occasion, the Bears might have him throw passes on gadget plays to Trubisky, as he did on the now famous "Philly Special" touchdown in Super Bowl LII.
Calling him a tight end could be seen as a disservice to Burton, because he's so much more than that. Ask and you shall receive with this player. He's the type of guy that expands upon and helps diversify a creative Chicago offense. A calculated aggressiveness to fill offensive holes by Pace is further exemplified by this efficient signing of Burton.
The addition of another valuable puzzle piece in Burton is now locked in long term in Chicago. He’s another piece that adds to an increasingly exciting framework of a high-flying, on-your-toes Bears' offense.
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears' beat writer for The Rock River Times, an editor for Windy City Gridiron and Inside The Pylon, and is a contributor to Pro Football Weekly and The Athletic Chicago. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.