It’s not really a Bears offseason until they make a transaction involving a new tight end.
And finally, we’ve reached that point with PFF’s Ari Meirov reporting the Bears’ signing of free agent Ryan Griffin. Let the games begin!
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) April 8, 2022
Griffin, 32, joins Cole Kmet and Jesper Horsted as the only active tight ends on the Bears roster. He spent the 2021 season with the Jets, where he caught 27 passes for 261 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns. But with just 206 catches, 2,158 receiving yards, and 14 scores in 119 career games with the Jets and Texans, Griffin’s calling card isn’t expected to be as a vertical playmaker. Instead, Griffin seems to a valuable addition as a core special teams contributor (he’s played on at least 44 percent of those snaps in each of the last three years) and as a run-blocker. And that isn’t invaluable in the grand scheme of things.
Last season, Griffin put up the 20th best run-blocking grade among 70 qualifying tight ends, per Pro Football Focus. That’s not too shabby. In fact, Griffin’s 64.8 run-block grade would’ve been the best on last year’s Bears, besting Cole Kmet’s 62.2 by a few points and 11 spots on the leaderboard. All things considered, the Bears could stand to get better in the blocking department. Hence, the Griffin addition makes for a potential nice value if he can win a job out of camp and be used properly.
Even knowing his value is primarily as a reserve and a blocker, I don’t want to sleep on some of these grabs:
The moves + the power.
Ryan Griffin's got both. pic.twitter.com/amIGQi3di4
— New York Jets (@nyjets) March 11, 2020
— Cameron DaSilva (@camdasilva) September 24, 2017
Ryan Griffin having himself a day on #NationalTightEndsDay!
— New York Jets (@nyjets) October 27, 2019
In case you’re curious, Griffin’s signing won’t count against the compensatory draft pick formula that we’re obsessing over these days. Firstly, players who were under contract for the 2022 season with another team before getting cut aren’t eligible for the formula. But even if Griffin was a traditional free agent, the $2.25 million contract is too light to qualify for inclusion in the formula. In any case, the Bears are bringing in a veteran tight end with nine years of experience who helps bring some competition to the room. The march to building out a 90-player roster continues.