The Chicago Bears are adding some veteran depth to their tight end room for next season and signing former New York Jets starter Ryan Griffin to a one-year, $2.25 million contract, according to Ari Meirov of Pro Football Focus.
Griffin started 31 of his 42 games played for the Jets over the past three seasons and caught 70 of the 95 passes thrown his way for 667 yards and seven touchdowns. Before arriving in New York, he spent six seasons as a rotational piece for the Houston Texans after they selected him in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL draft.
While Griffin’s numbers won’t be turning any heads, the Bears have needed a new veteran figure for the room since Jimmy Graham’s contract expired in March. He has played more than twice as many offensive snaps as Cole Kmet and Jesper Horsted combined and gives Chicago someone at the position who has caught 200-plus passes throughout his long career. Even if the Bears find another, more productive talent before the start of the season, it never hurts to have experienced depth.
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Griffin Lost Roster Spot to New Additions
The writing had been on the wall for some time when it came to Griffin’s stay in New York. After a strong first season with the team in 2019 that impressed then-head coach Adam Gase and earned him a three-year extension, he struggled with injuries over the next two seasons and eventually started slinking down the depth chart until he stalled out as the No. 3 option at the end of the 2021 season.
With such underwhelming results, Griffin was presumed to be in danger of losing his roster spot with the team coming into the 2022 offseason. He was still under contract for another year, but the out in his contract allowed the Jets to release him and save about $3 million in cap space. The decision practically made itself after New York also signed C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin in free agency.
Now, Griffin gets a chance — possibly his last chance at 32 years old — to start fresh with a new team that might have a greater need for his talents.
Could Bears Add Another TE in 2022 Draft?
The Bears will likely explore adding more tight end depth before training camp begins later in the summer, but could new general manager Ryan Poles take a bold step and spend one of their six draft picks to acquire a rookie talent for the position group?
While Chicago has some bigger priorities to address on the first two days of the 2022 draft, there are a couple of talents who could be available on Day 3 that could have some appeal. One of them — former Maryland standout Chigoziem Okonkwo — has even already taken a Top 30 visit with the Bears, which he announced on his Instagram.
Okonkwo is a little raw to project as an immediate-impact player at the NFL level, but he possesses all the physical traits to make him an explosive addition for whichever team gambles on him. He clocked the fastest time in the 40-yard dash (4.52 seconds) among tight ends at the NFL Scouting Combine in early March. He also displayed good hands while catching 52 passes for 447 yards and five touchdowns in his final season at Maryland, which is plenty of production to believe he can be polished for the pros.