by Ray Kuhn
No offense to Jimmy Graham, but what were the Chicago Bears thinking? To put it simply, the prime of the tight end’s career has passed and, at age 33, he is no longer a fantasy option.
The good news, is that fantasy owners (at least to this point) aren’t taking the bait. In early drafts Graham is the 36th tight end coming off the board, so at least in these nine drafts he is trending towards irrelevance. Granted a lot of this was prior to him being signed by the Bears, but based on his track record we had to assume that he would land a job in 2020.
And that he did, and now he will enter this season as the number one tight end in Chicago but that might just be in name only. To be honest it was a little surprising to see him receive a two year contract that included $9 million of guaranteed money as things have been rough over the last few seasons. As he played the last two seasons in Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers under center, we would have expected Graham to flourish, but that wasn’t the case.
In fact the complete opposite was true. Graham appeared in 32 games with Green Bay and he caught 93 passes for 1,083 and 5 TD. Over one season that would equal Graham’s production from his New Orleans days, but those days are in the past.
We know that there will be a downgrade in quarterbacks as he goes from Rodgers to either Mitch Trubisky or Nick Foles, but there is a third cause for concern… That is in the form of Trey Burton.
While the early indications are that Graham will be atop Chicago’s depth chart, Burton will still play a substantial role. Two seasons ago when he joined the Bears Burton had a lot of momentum as a sleeper, and with 54 receptions for 569 yards and 6 TD there were moderate results. Last year was a complete bust thanks to injury (14 receptions for 84 yards), but it looks like he will be around for one more season. If he is fully healthy, and things are trending that way, there will be a direct obstacle towards playing time for Graham.
Late in drafts, in deeper leagues, and on the waiver wire Graham still is going to carry some name recognition but it should end there. He might have a solid game or two that catches our attention, but likely noting more than that.