The Chicago Bears’ aggressive offseason moves could put the squeeze on one of their incumbent players.
“[Tight end Cole] Kmet might be more valuable to another team,” argued Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine on May 31. “If someone is willing to pay up for him in the final year of his rookie contract, the Bears should be willing to listen.”
Bears ‘Should Be Willing to Listen’ to Trade Offers for Former Top Pick
Cole Kmet’s Production Could Suffer in Revamped Offense
Ballentine’s argument comes from several factors, most notably the addition of D.J. Moore to the wide receiver room that has Darnell Mooney coming back after ankle surgery. Chase Claypool is in Year 2 and will have a full offseason with the team. Even more directly, they added former Green Bay Packer Robert Tonyan at tight end.
There’s also the matter of Kmet’s production.
As the Bears’ passing game went into the tank last season, Kmet’s targets fell by nearly 30%. He still did a lot of damage through the air with seven touchdowns. That was tied for the third-most among tight ends.
COLE KMET 😱
📺: #CHIvsATL on FOX
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/IaVHvq433O pic.twitter.com/GdbXMUOEkR
— NFL (@NFL) November 20, 2022
The former second-round pick (No. 43 overall in 2020) was Chicago’s first selection in his class. He is heading into the final year of his contract. There was word of contract talks in the spring.
“Just little talks here and there,” Kmet said, per Alex Shapiro of NBC Chicago on March 9. “They’ve got a lot to get done, obviously with the draft, free agency, all those things. Really wouldn’t expect much to happen, maybe until summer, really until after free agency settles and the draft, so we’ll see where it goes.”
Kmet, 24, is one of two tight ends in Bears history to record at least 130 receptions and 1300 yards over the first 50 games of his career, per Stathead, joining Greg Olsen. Zooming out, only 56 other tight ends in NFL history have achieved that mark to start their careers.
Jaylon Johnson Will Be at OTAs ‘For Sure’
Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson appeared on Keyshawn, JWill, & Max on June 1 to talk about a variety of topics, including his charity work for his non-profit, Kevvy’s Vision Project, and other such acts.
He also shed some light on his absence from OTAs ahead of a pivotal contract season.
Bears CB Jaylon Johnson was on @KeyJayandMax this morning and said he will "for sure" be at OTAs next week after missing the first two weeks. "I know I had a lot of things off the field going on." Said that he's been spending time w/ his young daughter back in Fresno, California
— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) June 1, 2023
Johnson, 24, was selected seven picks after Kmet in the 2020 NFL Draft. This regime does not have any ties to him (or Kmet for that matter) beyond his injury-shortened 2022 campaign. He has one career interception and has logged just one more pass breakup over the last two seasons (16) as he had as a rookie in 2016.
But Johnson has also gotten a vote of confidence from the Bears’ greatest tormentor, Aaron Rodgers. The now-New York Jets passer called the corner a “premier player” after their matchup in December.
Johnson said that he will be at the next set of OTAs “for sure”.
For what it’s worth, he has a little added motivation to show up and show out with the team drafting another perimeter corner in Tyrique Stevenson and 2022 second-rounder and projected nickelback Kyler Gordon admitted that he misses playing on the outside.
The Bears’ next set of OTAs will take place from June 5 through June 8 with veteran minicamp slated to take place the following week at which point Johnson was already expected back.