Chicago Bears General Manager Ryan Pace took quite the leap of faith during the offseason, when he handed Trey Burton a pretty hefty free agent contract, out-bidding a pair of division rivals in the process.
But if you’re inclined to believe the folks at Pro Football Focus, Burton is about to take advantage of his newfound playing time and take a major leap of his own.
PFF’s Sam Monson ranks the top-10 tight ends for the 2018 season, and you’re probably familiar a few of the names at the top such as Rob Gronkowski, Travs Kelce, and Greg Olsen. But as you make your way to the bottom of the top 10, you’ll find Burton, the Bears tight end with breakout potential.
Burton has the desired size and skills of a playmaking tight end, but is mostly unproven. He has never been a full-time starter and has played just 741 snaps during his four-year NFL career. Burton actually did his best work as a reserve behind a pair of quality tight ends in Zach Ertz and Brent Celek while he was with the Philadelphia Eagles. But after showing enough in spot action to merit a team to roll the dice on him as a free agent, Burton will soon have ample opportunity to show that he can be the kind of play-making tight end who can thrive in an offense.
The sample size is admittedly small, but Burton earned a top-10 grade from PFF last season when he flashed his potential here and there. Most people remember Burton’s role in the Philly Special, a play ripped straight out of Dowell Loggains’ playbook. But let’s not overlook the five-catch, 71-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Los Angeles Rams from last December. The match-up between a pair of playoff-bound teams exemplified how much a brilliant, offensive-leaning head coach could bring to a young, developing quarterback. But it also showed how important it was to have playmakers who could make the most of your system.
We figure Matt Nagy’s scheme will be similar to that of Doug Pederson’s since both are branches from the Andy Reid tree. And while we think it’d be foolish to expect Burton to put up Kelce-like numbers right away, I still think it’s fair to expect Burton to provide a positive impact on the offensive side of the ball upon arrival. Since Burton’s signing, we’ve discussed his knowledge of the base concepts in Nagy’s offense, crazy fantasy football appeal and upside, and blooming relationship with quarterback Mitch Trubisky. That Burton sees the kind of qualities in Trubisky that he saw in Carson Wentz has us that much more excited about what could be in store this season.
To be clear, Burton has quite the road ahead of him before he locks in a permanent spot among the top-10 tight ends in football. Burton has the potential to do it, and showing in 2018 would certainly justify his place among the best. Here’s hoping he has it in him.