Tight End with Particular Skill Set Should Interest Bears

The tight end market for free agency suddenly looks like it will be flooded with veterans as teams make cost-cutting moves and one there already should be of particular interest to the Chicago Bears.
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The New Orleans Saints cut tight ends Jared Cook and Josh Hill while the Minnesota Vikings did the same with Kyle Rudolph.

It looks like the comment by an unnamed coach in a Tweet by Dianna Russini of ESPN saying it's "...going to be a massacre next week around the league" proved inaccurate. That's because it's already begun.

Should the Bears be interested? They have no money for free agent purchases at this moment and have their own free agents to consider. Besides, they're so strapped for cash they could have two tight ends of their own joining free agency soon.

Still, this could be worth a look.

Rudolph used to be a problem for them and at age 31 isn't a used-up player. After all, the Bears just milked nine touchdown receptions from Jimmy Graham, counting that final pass in the playoff game. And he was 33.

Rudolph was in the offense of Bears quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo in 2018 when he made a career-high 64 receptions but hasn't been back in that range since. He has fallen off to 39 and 28 catches the last two years.

Cook is already just about Jimmy Graham's age. He turns 34 in a month and it didn't seem to hurt him against the Bears last year. In a regular-season and playoff game against the Bears, Cook caught nine passes for 91 yards and a touchdown.

With both of those two, money was a factor as they took up more than $5 million in cap space.

The player the Bears should be interested in is the youngest one, Hill. They already were.

In 2016, GM Ryan Pace signed Hill to an offer sheet as a restricted free agent but his old boss Mickey Loomis matched the offer. Then Loomis returned the favor in 2018 by stealing away Bears restricted free agent receiver Cameron Meredith, a move which later blew up in the Saints' faces because Meredith never did come back fully from the bad torn ACL he suffered in August of 2017 in Chicago.

Hill has averaged only 14.5 catches over eight Saints seasons and is turning 31 this year.

The reason the Bears would benefit from signing Hill is his blocking. Hill rated No. 4 as a blocker among the league's tight ends last year according to Pro Football Focus. He's a classic blocking tight end with decent hands for an occasional catch. He just isn't a player who is going downfield anywhere to make one.

The Bears need blocking help at tight end in the running game. They had Jimmy Graham mentoring Cole Kmet last year as a receiver, but Hill could do the same as a blocker. Kmet needs to improve this area and has said this himself several times throughout last season.

Hill's salary was at a reasonable $1.75 million salary last year and after being cut he's definitely not climbing the cap ladder.

With Demetrius Harris a free agent after he brought little to the Bears offense, and Graham a possible salary cap cut victim, one potential way to improve run blocking overall would be the addition of a blocking tight end who the Bears already had an interest in obtaining.

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