Bears Showing Interest in ‘Intriguing’ Veteran Tight End

James O'Shaughnessy

Getty James O'Shaughnessy had a visit with the Chicago Bears this week.

Less than a week after inking former New York Jets tight end Ryan Griffin to a one-year deal, the Chicago Bears are showing interest in another veteran at the position.

Per the NFL’s April 11 waiver wire, the Bears brought veteran tight end James O’Shaughnessy in for a workout. O’Shaughnessy, 30, spent the last five seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars. A fifth-round draft pick for the Kansas City Chiefs out of Illinois State in 2015 (173rd overall), O’Shaughnessy spent his first two seasons in Kansas City before getting traded to the New England Patriots along with a sixth-round pick in 2017.

Current Bears general manager Ryan Poles served as the Chiefs’ college scouting coordinator when O’Shaughnessy was drafted in 2015, so there’s a connection there. Bears insider Brad Biggs noted O’Shaughnessy would make an “intriguing depth addition” to a Chicago tight ends room that currently includes Griffin, Cole Kmet and Jesper Horsted.

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O’Shaughnessy: Background, Injury History & Stats

Since entering the league in 2015, O’Shaughnessy has played in 80 games, starting 40. He played minimally in Kansas City, catching just eight passes on 12 targets for 86 yards. His time in New England didn’t last long after he was traded there, as the Pats released him before the start of the 2017 regular season.

The Jags picked him up shortly after that, and he wound up playing in 57 games and starting 34 for them over the past five seasons. In that span, he has caught 104 passes for 1,022 yards (9.8 yards per catch) and three touchdowns. He has played at least 48% of Jacksonville’s offensive snaps in each of the last four seasons.

He had a relatively clean injury history until 2019, when he tore his ACL after appearing in just five regular season games. He missed the rest of that season, but rebounded nicely in 2020, playing in 15 out of 16 games and finishing with career highs in catches (28) and yards (262).

He missed some time again last season, playing in just seven out of 17 games. He had a September-November stint on the injured reserve list with a high ankle sprain, and returned to play five games before getting sidelined again for the final two games of the year with a hip injury.

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Could O’Shaughnessy Be Possible Jesse James Replacement?

The 6-foot-4, 245-pound O’Shaughnessy isn’t the greatest route runner or blocker, but he has improved at both over the years. Last year, the Bears had tight ends Jimmy Graham and Jesse James on the roster, the latter of whom developed a slight chemistry with quarterback Justin Fields in limited opportunities. James caught seven passes on eight targets for 62 yards and a score in 14 games last year, but his return, along with Graham’s, is unlikely.

In his seven appearances in 2021, O’Shaughnessy had 24 catches for 244 yards, averaging 4.8 yards after the catch, per PFF. Considering Graham had just 167 yards receiving in 15 games for the Bears last year, O’Shaughnessy might not be a bad addition, as he had more yards in half a season than both Graham and James had combined.

The Bears have just six picks in the upcoming draft, so adding another tight end via free agency seems likely. We’ll know soon whether O’Shaughnessy will be the one.

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