The Chicago Bears seem set at their top two tight end spots this season, but the depth remains questionable. In 2022 they only carried three players at the position for much of the year, but there will certainly be one or two sticking around on the practice squad. Special teams ability could win a spot for a guy, as could positional flexibility.
Cole Kmet and Robert Tonyan make up a solid 1-2 punch at the position, with Kmet serving as the primary Y (inline) and Tonyan being more comfortable at the U (move tight end). Kmet played in 94% of Chicago's offensive snaps a season ago, while Tonyan (one year removed from a knee injury) played in 54% of the snaps in Green Bay.
The 24-year-old Kmet provided better blocking in the run game than in previous years, and he chipped in with 50 receptions, 544 yards, and seven touchdowns. Tonyan had a career-high 53 catches, 470 yards, and 2 TDs in a similar scheme in 2022. These two will complement each other within the Bears' offense, and I'm intrigued by how offensive coordinator Luke Getsy will use them.
"He's a great dude," Kmet said about Tonyan via the team's site. "I think me and him are going to do a lot of good things together when we're able to go [with two tight ends]. I'm really excited about it."
A good bet to make it
This is a tough one because the most experienced reserve on the roster is free agent pick-up Stephen Carlson, but Carlson hasn't played in the NFL since 2020. He played in 25 games with seven starts in '19 and '20, but he missed all of 2021 with an injury and wasn't on a roster last year. The Bears signed him after a tryout in May, and if he's 100% recovered from his knee issue, then his experience gives him an edge.
On the bubble
The other two tight ends on the roster are 2022 UDFAs Jake Tonges and Chase Allen, and both spent most of last year on the practice squad. Tonges (6'4", 240) had the athleticism to line up at fullback last year, while Allen (6'6", 250) has some potential as an inline blocker. I wouldn't be surprised to see either beat out Carlson for a third roster spot opening week, but I don't think the Bears will carry a fourth on the 53-man roster.
How do you see the depth shaping up behind Kmet and Tonyan?