On Monday, the Bears publicly wished a happy 28th birthday to Dion Sims after finishing his second season in Chicago. Aw, how wholesome. That’s so kind of them to think of their player. On Wednesday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that they’re expected to release the seventh-year veteran before free agency starts in several weeks.
What a belated birthday present! I’m sure Sims will treasure it forever.
After an unceremonious two seasons in Chicago where Sims caught just 17 passes for 189 yards and one touchdown, the Bears’ move to release him hardly comes as a surprise. Enjoy minimal production and have limited availability, and the writing on the wall will surface sooner rather than later.
Sims, billed as a “two-way” tight end (in the most liberal of definitions) was largely anything but during his tenure. Beyond the veteran acting as a complete non-factor in the passing game, he was also wasn’t much of any help as a blocker either. It’s not often you’ll find a 6-foot-5, 262 pound man struggle at the point of attack when it’s one of his lone responsibilities. That, strangely, was somehow the case with Sims.
It wouldn’t take much digging on your part, but here you’ll find his true lone Bears career highlight. I’m not joking. If you’re a tight end that can’t get open, can’t catch, and can’t block, what is it exactly that behooves an NFL team to keep you and your services around?
Other fringe roster guys have been released for far less, which is what made the Bears’ decision to keep Sims around for the 2018 season as an ill-fated member of their infamous 2017 free agent class so befuddling. Matt Nagy and company essentially wanted to keep around a third tight end and stomach his roughly $6 million cap hit. The reality of an addition of Trey Burton and attempting to implement a young player like Adam Shaheen didn’t matter. An issue of roster flexibility might have made sense, but any idea of any effective on-field use didn’t in retrospect. It was a problem and question of an overtly crowded tight end room that now seems so naive given the Bears’ jump back to relevance.
Releasing Sims quite literally almost doubles Chicago’s salary cap space to almost $14 million as they sat with roughly $7 million before the decision was made. That should give general manager Ryan Pace a little more breathing room to work with as he navigates addressing pertinent needs such as kicker, running back, and ongoing contract situations with Bryce Callahan and Adrian Amos. Since the Bears possess what they view to be a contending roster already, it’s not likely they’ll receive much more space as this off-season envelops. Every single penny counts.
On a personal level, Sims — who has had four (documented) major concussions over the course of his professional football life from Miami to Chicago — might have a decision to make regarding his playing future. Another concussion that cut his 2018 season significantly short probably won’t and shouldn’t be taken lightly. The exacerbation and prevalence of head injuries is never ground one wants to walk upon.
As he departs the Bears and looks toward greener pastures, hopefully the big tight end can find a place of peace as to whatever decision comes to mind.
Robert is the Editor-in-chief of The Blitz Network (subscribe here!), the managing editor of Windy City Gridiron, and writes for many fine publications. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.