Excuse the baseball anecdote but its purpose will quickly become clear.
For years, the Chicago Cubs would go into free agency and consider signing players who ripped the ball when they came to play at Wrigley Field.
The reasoning was since they looked like Babe Ruth in Wrigley Field they loved hitting there. Of course, they just loved hitting there because they were facing Cubs pitching. The ivy and old ballyard had nothing to do with it.
Well, the Bears have a chance in restricted free agency to come away with a player who proved a particular pain to them during the last two years.
The restricted free agent is Rams tight end Johnny Mundt.
The Bear Hunter
"Johnny Mundt is a guy that we have a lot of faith in," Rams quarterback Jared Goff told the media via Zoom after they manhandled the Bears last season. "We said this earlier in the week when we had an idea he was going to have to play, but last year against the Bears he had to step up and play a lot, too. This guy's ready for the Bears at all times."
But Mundt isn't like hitters facing Cubs pitchers. It wasn't something necessarily about the Bears defense he liked. He didn't find anything particularly easy about facing the Bears defense.
The things he really did against them well were things he did well against everyone when he had the chance. They're just not necessarily recognized as qualities bringing attention to players, even tight ends.
He's a big-time blocker who has only nine career receptions.
"They like the way I block, how physical I am on the point of the attack, so they like to use me in that aspect," Mundt told reporters after that Bears game. "But it's always nice to show my skills with the ball in my hand."
In 2019, Pro Football Focus labeled Mundt the eighth-best run-blocking tight end and 10th-best pass-blocking tight end in the NFL after he had played only 19% of the team's snaps.
Bears Added Tight End Receivers, No Blockers
If there is one aspect missing from the additions the Bears made at tight end last year, it's a strong blocker. Jimmy Graham stepped up but it's never been one of his strengths. Cole Kmet has the physical ability to do it and is learning.
J.P. Holtz and Demetrius Harris are their best blockers and neither played much. Harris had seven catches, Holtz none. And how good could any of the Bears tight ends be at run blocking when one of the great weaknesses the past three years for the Bears has been blocking on short-yardage running plays?
Mundt also was graded as the top Rams 2019 special teams player by PFF, so special teams coordinator Chris Tabor would no doubt love to have him.
So, putting in an offer sheet on Mundt might be a wise move for the Bears.
They might not even need to do it because the Rams are strapped for cash. Overthecap.com has it at minus-$33 million now and Spotrac.com at minus-$27.6 million. It's possible they might set a bottom tender of $2.1 million for Mundt, but he was an undrafted free agent.
The Rams might not even tender him, hoping instead to pay him much less than the low tender like the Bears did with DeAndre Houston-Carson. So, a team giving Mundt a multi-year deal would stand a good chance of coming away with him.
Finding a tight end who counts blocking as his biggest strength but can catch a short pass now and then should be a goal for the Bears to complete their tight end set.
Then they'll see Mundt doesn't hit just them but can hit other teams on other fields just as well.