Jimmy Graham isn’t quite ready to hang up his cleats just yet. The veteran tight end for the Chicago Bears turns 35 this November, and he’ll be coming back for at least one more year with one very clear-cut goal in mind: hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
Graham reported to mandatory veteran minicamp this week, and when he talked to the media after completing the first day, he spoke about his excitement for the upcoming season, while also revealing a major decision he almost made after his 2020 campaign with Chicago concluded.
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Graham: I ‘Certainly Did’ Consider Retirement
The savvy veteran established himself as a top red zone threat for Chicago last year, catching 50 passes for 456 yards, while leading the team in touchdowns with eight.
Many thought Graham would be a salary cap casualty this offseason, as the Bears could have saved around $7 million by cutting him. Instead, they’re bringing him back in the hopes he’ll continue his red zone dominance along with his mentorship of promising second-year tight end Cole Kmet. It almost didn’t happen, though.
When asked if he considered retirement this offseason, Graham answered in the affirmative.
“Yeah. I certainly did for a second there,” he admitted, before acknowledging the Bears’ final game of the season, a Wild Card loss to the New Orleans Saints, didn’t sit well with him.
“I’ve got a lot of unfinished business. It was very difficult for me to go back in the dome and especially to lose,” Graham said about the loss to his former team. “I’m a pretty fiery person. I’m a pretty enthusiastic person. And I hate losing, simple as that. It was a lot of frustration there, because I haven’t won a ring and that’s all I think about. So just knowing it’s another year. I wasn’t sure what I was gonna do, but I talked to (Bears GM) Ryan (Pace) and talked to (head coach) Matt (Nagy), and I’m on board and ready to do whatever it takes to get back in that position and move forward and hopefully to make a run.”
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Graham Wants a Ring
Now entering his 12th year in the league, the durable vet wants to win a Super Bowl, and Nagy made it clear that was the primary reason for Graham’s decision to return this season:
I just think it’s important to everybody on this call to understands one thing: Jimmy’s done a lot of things as an individually, right? He’s scored a lot of touchdowns. He’s been playing with a lot of great quarterbacks. He’s been in great offenses. He’s done a lot of stuff. He’s won a lot of games. But I say this and I mean this: This guy cares about one thing and one thing only, and that’s that trophy. He wants to win the Super Bowl. That’s the only thing he cares about. So for him to decide to come back here and continue to play, he’s not doing it for records. He’s not doing it because he just wants to play a little bit more or get one more year in. He’s doing it because he believes we have the ability to be really good. He knows that. And he is a valuable, valuable piece of this offense in so many different ways — in the classroom, in practice and on game day — that just is worth every penny. So I’m excited about it. I’m ready to see him and use him in certain ways. But there’s one reason why he’s here and that’s to win the Super Bowl.
That’s a lofty goal, but it’s not like Graham to go small.