It’s no secret that the Bears are looking for more (well, any) help at the tight end position, especially after signing Jimmy Graham early in free agency and possibly overpaying him.
The big question now is, should they look at cutting ties with Trey Burton?
The Bears’ roster currently has a ridiculous amount of tight ends, so they have to whittle this down at some point. Check out who is currently on the roster:
- Jimmy Graham
- Trey Burton
- Adam Shaheen
- Ben Braunecker
- JP Holtz
- Jesper Horsted
- Bradley Sowell
- Demetrius Harris
- Eric Saubert
- Darion Clark
10 Tight Ends! TEN!
The Bears were truly horrendous last year at the tight end position, so it makes sense that they wanted to bring some guys in, but Jesus, what on earth is going on up at Halas Hall. I guess they really want to do a thorough evaluation. Anyway, 7 of the touchdowns listed above finished with a combined 44 catches for 395 yards and 2 touchdowns last year. Not good ladies and gentlemen.
So first, what has Trey Burton done since joining the Bears?
In 2018, Burton had a pretty good season. He had 54 receptions for 569 yards and 6 touchdowns It was his best season as a pro and for the most part, exactly what the team and fans were looking for. 6 of those games he ended up with 2 catches or less though, which is obviously inconsistent. That’s not all on Burton though, we all know quarterback play is… less than ideal.
Last year Trey Burton dealt with constant injuries resulting in him only “appearing” in 8 games. This led to a total of 14 receptions for 84 yards and no touchdowns. Not good for a guy that the team is dedicating so much money to, especially when there were rumors swirling that it wasn’t necessarily a physical injury, but anxiety-related issues. Mental health is, of course, an issue that shouldn’t be taken lightly, but lack of production is lack of production, no matter what way you look at it.
So let’s get back to the question at hand… What do the Bears do with this guy? Of course, there are two possible scenarios to move on from Burton, but let’s look at what each would entail:
Burton is owed $8.5M for the 2020 season. If the Bears were to release him right now, he would still hit the Bears’ cap pretty hard ($7.5M). Releasing Burton doesn’t really get the Bears much unless they really need that extra $1M to complete a signing, or they really need/value the roster spot. We know that he can be a productive player, maybe even more so with someone else throwing him the ball. Nick Foles anyone? Super Bowl? That’s the reason he got this deal from the Bears in the first place, right? Pair him with Jimmy Graham and the Bears could have a very dynamic offense if everyone is healthy. Keyword being “IF”. At this point though, as little as he’s played, keeping him around for at least one more year would be worth it for $1M in my opinion.
It would make much more sense to just ride it out for one more year solely based on cap reasons. If Burton disappoints again in 2020, he can be released next off-season and they only suffer a cap hit of $1.75M, down from his 2021 salary of $8.85M if he stuck around in 2021.
Alright, I don’t know what team in their right mind would trade for Burton with his current salary, but it’s an option. To trade him as-is, the Bears would more than likely have to give up draft capital…which they don’t have much of. The more logical move would be to execute a trade in which they still pay part of his salary. If they were to pay, let’s say $4M of his salary for the next year, that would free up a total of $4.5M of cap space to work with, while letting another team take the risk of him having another disappointing year. It’s still a stretch though to find a trade partner without including some draft capital. This doesn’t seem like a likely option.
So based on the two scenarios, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to just release him. He’s already getting paid. If it were the case that he is a cancer to the locker room, maybe they would just say they want him out of there. That doesn’t seem to be the case. I’m also not worried about making room for one of the other 9 TEs currently on the roster. We should hold out hope that someone wants to trade for him, but plan on Trey Burton sticking around for at least one more season.