Bears looking for more production from tight end group
The Bears dumped a ton of money into contract extensions for their offensive line with only sub-par results to date.
Yet, there's another position where they've spent excessively with results possibly even worse or similar.
The Bears are getting very little for their dollar spent at tight end.
It's been this way for two years, although last year Trey Burton's 54 receptions elevated the position somewhat.
After five games the Bears have 22 receptions by tight ends, 11 by Burton and seven by Shaheen among the starters. Ben Braunecker and new tight end J.P. Holtz have two each.
The Bears have devoted $13.1 million of their cap space toward the tight end spot according to Spotrac.com, the third most of any team. Washington ($17.5 million) and Green Bay ($15.3 million) were the only teams to spend more.
And for their money, the Bears have the 14th most receptions by tight ends.
Their tight ends average a scant 6.1 yards per catch, with Burton topping out at 57 yards for his 11 catches.
They've targeted tight ends 28 times.
Blocking also is a big part of the game for tight ends and it can't be going too well when the entire running game has ground to a halt, ranking 26th overall in yards gained.
Burton missed the first game and has been slow coming back from a groin injury. When he returned, coach Matt Nagy thought it might take time for him.
"Volume-wise, rep-wise, he's not what he was last year, so we'll work through that," Nagy said.
With Shaheen, the Bears have said they are trying to determine how he can best be used. This should be a red flag immediately considering Shaheen is in his third NFL season.
Newly acquired Holtz presents the Bears with an option they didn't have a month ago as he becomes more familiar with the play book. The problem with Holtz is he lacks Shaheen's size at 6-3, 255. Still he could play the role because blocking is one of his strengths.
If tight end position production remains low, it wouldn't be out of the question for the Bears to promote Jesper Horsted. Horsted to the 53-man roster, who is ow 6-3, 237, was a wide receiver at Princeton and showed good enough hands that the Bears wanted him for the practice squad.
According to Spotrac.com, Horsted is getting $255,000 for the practice squad, which is more than most other practice squad players.
Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reported Horsted had more than one other team express interest in preseason before the Bears paid him more and he stayed around.
Horsted in preseason admitted he has holes in his game at the new position that stem from being a wide receiver in the past.
"I need to work on my blocking," Horsted said. "This whole tight end thing is new to me, so there are reaches and things that I need to continue to work on."