I love happy endings, reunion stories, and when things circle back to right a wrong.
And had the Chicago Bears brought in Greg Olsen as a free agent to help bolster the tight ends room last year, it would’ve accomplished just that. All while giving Cole Kmet a mentor to work behind and follow as a rookie. Bonus points for it being someone Kmet was probably rooting for while growing up a Bears fan. But not only was it *not* meant to be, Olsen says the Bears didn’t even reach out. It was a bummer, to be sure.
Nearly a year later, Olsen finds himself clarifying things.
Over at Bears Wire, Brendan Sugrue transcribes a portion of Olsen’s interview with the Pardon My Take podcast. In it, Olsen describes conversations with Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace:
“I talked to Matt Nagy – he called me with the GM [Ryan Pace] and we talked for like 45 minutes on the phone. They’re asking me questions about routes and ‘what kind of systems you played in, would you be comfortable with code words versus digits, what did you do on your backside routes, what was your leverage reads?’ All that stuff.
So I hang up and I say to my wife, ‘babe, I think they really like me and want to sign me! How cool would it be if life came full circle and we could finish up my career in Chicago? That would be so sick.'”
You’re right, Greg. It sure would’ve been sick. A storybook ending worthy of film. But sometimes, the best movies are never made. And instead, Olsen jokes: “When they signed Jimmy (Graham), I was like those guys — they used me. They took me on a really cheap date, picked my brain for everything I knew, and just gave me an Uber and sent me on my way.”
Been there, bro.
In the end, I don’t think the Bears’ choice of Graham over Olsen was a game-changer. Moreover, Graham was thriving in his roles as red-zone target and mentor last season. So much so, Graham remains on the team for another season. And to think, many (present company included) thought that second year was only a formality for a one-year bridge. Go figure. Turns out, the Bears value Graham’s leadership and red-zone prowess. Statistically, I can’t blame them. And rather than riding off into the sunset and retiring, Graham is back for more. Who could’ve seen this coming?
Perhaps there is a best-of-both-worlds angle here. Because, sure, Chicago opted not to bring back Olsen. But Kmet will still get a chance to work with the former Bears standout. Remember, Kmet is set to work with Olsen and other tight ends at TE University. So not only does he get to learn from Graham for a second consecutive year, Kmet also finds himself on the cusp of picking Olsen’s brain, too. That’s pretty neat!
I believe everything that can push Kmet forward should be put on his plate. And if Kmet takes a second-year leap, I hope to fondly look back at his work with Graham and Olsen — two of the best to do it in modern times — as a turning point. Even if part of me was wishing Olsen would’ve been in the Bears huddle one last time before retiring.