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Ryan Pace Labels Trey Burton Release an Availability Issue

Injuries added up so Bears used the chance prior to the NFL Draft to get their salary cap structure in place at tight end

Bears general manager Ryan Pace called the decision last week to cut tight end Trey Burton one based on a medical situation.

In his predraft conference call with Chicago media, Pace remained vague on the entire situation but hinted strongly at the unusual and difficult circumstances that have dogged Burton since just before the playoff loss to Philadelphia at the end of the 2018 season.

"We took a full evaluation of our roster after free agency and factored everything in," Pace said. "That was the best decision for us and we wish him nothing but the best of luck.

"I know he had a good first year with us. Unfortunately for him and for us the injuries kind of added up and we just felt at this time it was the best course of action for our team."

Burton reported a groin injury just before the playoff game and sat out the 16-15 loss to his old team. He had sports hernia surgery in the offseason after the game, then never gained full strength and missed half of the season on injured reserve after making only 14 receptions for 84 yards.

Burton underwent another surgery after his surgery ended and the Bears have not had an update other than to include him in a group with other players who had surgery and are on schedule in rehab to be ready for the start of training camp.

The Bears signed two free agent tight ends and they are positioned in the draft to come up with one of several players like Cole Kmet of Notre Dame or Brycen Hopkins of Purdue.

"You know, that's a position we've emphasized, we did in free agency," Pace said. "We decided on Jimmy Graham and Demetrius Harris. So we have some guys there we like.

"I think the one silver lining last year as we kind of went through that position is we did accumulate some guys that are interesting for us as we look at the depth in that room."

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The Bears brought in J.P. Holtz and Eric Saubert during the season after they'd been cut by their former teams. They brought up Jesper Horsted from the practice squad to add with Adam Shaheen and Ben Braunecker due to the injury to Burton, and still have practice squad tight end Dax Raymond. They've also signed a former college basketball player, Darion Clark, based on a tryout situation.

In all, it's nine tight ends currently on the roster.

"I know we have a lot of tight ends we've got to filter through that," Pace said. "There's some guys in that tight end room that are very intriguing and very interesting for us.

"But I think with the adding of Jimmy Graham, Demetrius Harris, I think that helps to fortify that group a bit. But also it's a good tight end draft so if there's guys there that we like we'd consider it."

While the release wasn't a total shock, the timing seemed curious considering they had all offseason to do it and decided before the draft. 

"I just think when we took a complete picture of our whole roster and kind of stepped back and looked at everything–and now where we are in that tight end room and what we can do to help us from a financial standpoint (salary cap) as well–to be honest, all those factors go into it," Pace added. "It's a multiple of things that we discussed and we just made the decision that was best for us overall."

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