Jake Butt is coming to the Windy City. The former Denver Broncos tight end has signed with the Chicago Bears, the team announced via Twitter. The Bears confirmed three signings on June 18: Butt, defensive lineman Mike Pennel and offensive lineman Tyrone Wheatley Jr. The latter two names had been confirmed by the players’ agents a day earlier.
According to the team’s official website, the Bears waived two undrafted rookies to make space on the current 90-man roster: defensive lineman Thomas Schaffer and tackle Gunnar Vogel.
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Butt Has Concerning Injury History
Butt tore his ACL in high school, and recovered quite nicely, eventually becoming one of the best tight ends in the nation when he played his college ball with the Michigan Wolverines from 2013-16. He won the John Mackey Award his senior season in 2016, which is given to the top tight end in college football each year. Bad luck struck again shortly after that.
The 25-year-old tore his ACL again in the Orange Bowl just prior to the 2017 NFL Draft. The injury caused him to fall from a projected second round pick to a fifth-rounder. The Broncos took a chance on him, but the injury bug would not let up. He missed the entire 2017 recovering, but a third ACL injury in 2018 kept him out the bulk of that year and the following season, as well.
After suffering a minor hamstring injury during the 2020 season, the Broncos let him walk after his contract expired.
“It’s a little bit of yin and yang,” Butt said when asked to reflect on his time in Denver, per NBC9 News. “For me it just sucks not being about to do what I wanted to do. I was able to show just a little splash of it but that can also be a little bit maddening because you get a little flash and you’re like, ‘OK, wait. I belong here. I can play in the NFL. I know I can be a good player in the NFL.’ To just get beat down again and again by injuries, it sucks as far as on field.”
Butt played in eight games for the Broncos, starting four. He had 10 catches for 90 yards with Denver, a far cry from the 138 catches for 1,646 yards and 11 scores he had in his four seasons with the Wolverines.
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Butt Says He’s Currently Healthy
“I’ve grown a lot personally,” Butt added after leaving the Broncos. “Because football is fleeting. It’s going to end at some point and how I’ve grown as a person through these injuries and through these trials is invaluable. In that sense I’m really grateful.”
The young tight end, who turns 26 in July, is getting a second chance with Matt Nagy and company, who could use a few playmakers behind Cole Kmet and Jimmy Graham.
“Hey listen, I’m healthy,” Butt said. “I’m running, I’m continuing to improve my game. The further I get out from that (2018) ACL, the better I feel. The more I learn about ACL and knee recoveries the more I can push myself and get back to playing football I know I can play. It’s not necessarily good or bad, it just is what it is.”
If pans out and stays healthy, Butt could very well become one of the better stories of the team’s offseason.