2022 Offseason Outlook: Cole Kmet and the Tight Ends

Social Navigation


2022 Offseason Outlook: Cole Kmet and the Tight Ends

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears’ 2021 season is one we don’t mind leaving in the rear-view mirror. 

With that being said, we’re looking ahead to 2022 and beyond. The Ryan Poles Era is underway. And with a new-look front office and a fresh set of eyes at head coach, a clean slate is at everyone’s fingertips. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a position-by-position look at the team heading into the offseason for a franchise that should be excited about changes on the horizon under its new leadership.

Previous: Quarterbacks, Running backs, Wide receivers, Offensive line

Today: Tight ends

Offseason need: Medium

WHO’S UNDER CONTRACT?

Cole Kmet (22)

Kmet is on the younger side of things (he doesn’t turn 23 until March 10) and has two years worth of pro experience under his belt. More importantly, Kmet is coming off his best season, during which he caught 60 passes for 612 yards (though he didn’t score any touchdowns). But with the Bears struggling to get into the red zone, there weren’t many opportunities for Kmet to showcase his skills in the scoring area. Twelve red-zone targets in 17 games? That ain’t it.

EXITING FREE AGENTS

UFA: Jimmy Graham (35), Jesse James (27)

RFA: J.P. Holtz (28)

ERFA: Jesper Horsted (25)

Unlike previous years where everyone in the tri-state area had a spot in the Bears’ tight ends room, Kmet stands alone. Well, for now. Holtz and Horsted could both be back in 2022 should the team decide on it. The Bears are the only team that can negotiate a contract with Horsted, while Holtz is a restricted free agent.

WHO COULD BE CUT BEFORE THE LEAGUE NEW YEAR BEGINS?

Unless you are desperate to clear $531,111 in cap space by cutting Kmet, there isn’t anything to be saved in this position room.

Cap numbers via OverTheCap.com

POSSIBLE FREE AGENT FITS

(Age in parenthesis)

⇒   Mike Gesicki (26)
⇒   Dalton Schultz (25)
⇒   Zach Ertz (31)
⇒   Maxx Williams (27)
⇒   Mo Alie-Cox (28)

After watching Ryan Pace’s free agent investments at the position flop, I’d be curious to see if his replacement goes for a bargain value. For instance, I wonder if Robert Tonyan or Jared Cook are possibilities because of prior connections to Luke Getsy. PFF projects Tonyan to get a one-year “prove it” deal worth $5.5 million. He could fit well with this offense. So could Cook, who Pro Football Focus sees having a role as a receiving tight end. Teaming him as a “U” tight end with Kmet playing a more traditional “Y” role could make for an intriguing tandem. Especially with Cook’s projected salary being a one-year deal worth $4 million.

Either of the Cardinals free agents (Ertz, Willliams) could be sensible Bears target because of TEs Coach Jim Dray’s history with both in Arizona. Same for Alie-Cox, who Head Coach Matt Eberflus should be familiar with because of his time with the Colts.

PFF’s TOP-5 DRAFT-ELIGIBLE PROSPECTS

⇒   Trey McBride, Colorado State
⇒   Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina
⇒   Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State
⇒   Cade Otton, Washington
⇒   Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M

Y’all have no idea how hard this tweet made me laugh:

HOW CAN THE BEARS ADDRESS/UPGRADE THE POSITION?

Where Ryan Pace was obsessive in trying to find a tight end for Matt Nagy’s scheme, I don’t expect Ryan Poles to be as aggressive in this particular arena. For what it’s worth, Poles knows what elite tight end play looks like after watching Travis Kelce become a star with the Chiefs. But it’s not as if the Getsy offense needs elite tight end production to be productive. At least, that is how I would frame things based on watching the Packers offense. Nevertheless, the Bears could bolster this group by mixing it up with regards to the types of players they can deploy.

Maybe matching Kmet with a receiving tight end makes sense. Perhaps adding someone who is primarily a blocker could be useful in protecting Justin Fields. Could taking a flier on a post-hype sleeper such as O.J. Howard be a fit? Chicago could get better here without using a ton of cap space. This is a position I’d keep an eye on when it comes to movement.


Latest from Bleacher Nation:


Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.