Jimmy Graham believes the Chicago Bears have the right plan for him to succeed in 2020, but a retired star from his former team doesn’t seem convinced after watching him struggle for the past two seasons with the Green Bay Packers.
Former Packers offensive lineman T.J. Lang offered up a scathing indictment Graham’s abilities Thursday night on Twitter after the 33-year-old tight end spoke earlier in the day with reporters about joining the Bears, dragging him for his shortcomings as a blocker.
Naturally, NFL Twitter reacted to Lang’s brutal honesty with hilarity and generally seemed to agree with his assessment.
Graham never produced the way the Packers envisioned with him after signing a three-year, $30 million contract prior to the 2018 season, finishing with his lowest receiving output since his rookie year in 2010. The Packers had been drawn to his capabilities as a red-zone threat after he caught 10 touchdowns in 2017 for Seattle, but he hauled in just five total in his two years in Green Bay.
Blocking wasn’t Graham’s strong suit, either. The Packers had to go out and sign veteran Marcedes Lewis last offseason — and re-sign this offseason — to ensure they had an end-of-line blocker because, despite his 6-foot-7 frame and basketball background, Graham couldn’t get the job done.
Lang would classify as a knowledge opinion on the subject. He won a Super Bowl championship in 2011 as a member of the Packers’ offensive line and went on to be a two-time Pro Bowler with a two-year stint with the Detroit Lions. He played nearly 6,000 snaps as just about every position along the line except for center and was so beloved the Packers welcomed him back to retire last season.
Don’t bet on Graham getting — or wanting — the same treatment.
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Graham Promises Big Things — Again
Graham’s first teleconference with Bears reporters on Thursday saw him reveal some of the reasons why he flipped sides in the NFC North rivalry and landed with Chicago in free agency.
Some of the appeal was a reunion with Bears general manager Ryan Pace, who drafted Graham in 2010 while he was with the New Orleans Saints. He also felt confident about his role in Bears head coach Matt Nagy’s offensive system.
“Conversations that I had with coach and with Ryan Pace and how they use their tight end … were just above and beyond,” Graham said, via The Athletic’s Adam Jahns. “I’m excited to play for Ryan Pace. I’m excited to be his player again. … I’m hungrier than ever.”
Maybe some Bears fans buying into his words, but they should sound a little familiar to Packers fans who were excited about his arrival two years ago. Graham promised big things, too, when he first got to Green Bay and doubled down on his words after his first-year numbers failed to dazzle. He set out to prove to the NFL he wasn’t “old and slow” like some believed … but it never happened.