The Bears have released veteran tight end Trey Burton, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported on Friday. Adam Jahns of The Athletic added that the team is expected to use a post-June 1 designation on the release.
Burton signed a four-year, $32 million contract with the Bears in March of 2018 after spending the first four years of his career as a backup under Zach Ertz with the Eagles. He put together a solid first season in Chicago, playing in all 16 regular season games and tallying 54 catches, 569 yards and 6 touchdowns. A groin injury held him out of the team’s wild card matchup against his former team.
Injuries held Burton to just 8 games in 2019, and his production fell far short of expectations, as he finished the year with 14 catches for 84 yards and no touchdowns. The 28-year-old veteran fought through calf and groin issues but was unable to produce to the standard necessary for the starting tight end position. The report of his release comes minutes after the team signed former Packers offensive tackle Jason Spriggs.
EDIT: The Bears announced 5 roster moves today and you can find out all about them right here.
Releasing Burton as a post-June 1 cut will save the Bears roughly $2.8 million in cap space, as ESPN’s Field Yates pointed out. This means that Chicago can release him now and eventually free themselves of the guaranteed salary or roster bonuses, but the freeing up of salary cap does not count until after June 1. The designation likely only provides the team with additional cap space to sign their rookie class or add a cheap veteran in free agency.
The Bears still have 10 tight ends on the roster, including the likes of Jimmy Graham, Adam Shaheen, and Demetrius Harris. With the lack of depth or a long-term starter at the tight end position, one could expect Chicago to target a tight end at some point in Thursday’s draft.