Bears Poach One of Aaron Rodgers’ Top Targets From Packers: Report

Tonyan Bears Packers Deal

Getty Former Packers tight end Robert Tonyan is signing a new contract with the Bears, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

The Chicago Bears are leaning on their Luke Getsy connection again and poaching one of Aaron Rodgers’ favorite playmakers away from their rival Green Bay Packers for the 2023 season.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Bears are signing veteran tight end Robert Tonyan Jr. to a one-year contract for next season, securing another reliable pass-catching weapon for quarterback Justin Fields and forming a potentially potent tandem in their tight end room with Tonyan and returning starter Cole Kmet.

Tonyan caught a career-high 53 passes for 470 yards and two touchdowns in 2022 coming off a season-ending ACL injury in the previous year and has been one of the most consistent pass-catcher weapons in Rodgers’ arsenal over the past three years. Tonyan has a near-80% catch percentage on more than 150 targets dating back to the start of the 2020 season, in which he broke out with 52 receptions for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns — tying Travis Kelce for most by a tight end — on 59 total targets.

Now, Tonyan will move back to his home state — he is originally from McHenry, Illinois, about 50 miles northwest of Chicago — and reunite with Getsy as his new offensive coordinator. He is the second pass-catching weapon the Bears have acquired for Fields and their offense alongside star wide receiver D.J. Moore, who arrived in Chicago on Wednesday after their blockbuster deal with Carolina became official.

Bears Have 2 Starter-Level TEs With Robert Tonyan

The Bears had been expected to do something this offseason to reinforce their tight end positions behind Kmet for 2023, but most probably thought they would invest in one during next month’s NFL draft. Instead, the Bears have locked down a quality veteran starter who has been one of the Packers’ top pass-catching targets over the past three seasons and is someone who Rodgers considers to be a “Pro Bowl-caliber” weapon.

“He’s really gifted,” Rodgers said heading into the 2022 season on September 7. “He has great hands, he’s a really intuitive route-runner, he’s got great instincts. He’s made a couple of plays in practice that are just different than what we’ve had from those other guys in his absence. And it’s no disrespect to those guys. It’s just that the level that he’s capable of playing at is at that Pro Bowl-caliber level, so we’ve got to get him feeling healthy and playing like he was playing a couple years ago and get him going early.”

What’s even better is the Bears now have two big-bodied weapons for Fields to lean on at the position as he aims to take the next step as an NFL passer in 2023. Kmet has put up at least 50 catches in each of his last two seasons for the Bears, starting every game in both of them, and is coming off a year in which he took a career-high seven trips to the end zone. With Tonyan also in the mix, the Bears have the potential to run some dangerous double-tight sets that could wreak havoc in the red zone.

Bears Must Turn Focus to Getting Better OL Talent

All the Ryan Poles haters who complained about him not getting Fields quality weapons in 2022 might want to start walking back their comments. Since the middle of last year, Poles has traded for two starting wide receivers — Chase Claypool and Moore, the latter of whom is a verified No. 1 passing target — and now has signed a quality pass-catching tight end who, again, scored 11 touchdowns just three seasons when fully healthy.

Now, the mission priority must be more offensive line help.

The Bears still have some needs on defense, namely on their line, but they also desperately need another starter-quality offensive tackle for their roster. Most of the veteran options at right tackle have been taken off the market with Mike McGlinchey, Orlando Brown Jr., Jawaan Taylor and Kaleb McGary all signing new deals already. Perhaps someone like New England underachiever Isaiah Wynn could interest them for the right price, but it feels increasingly likely they will have to invest one of their premium draft picks — potentially even No. 9 overall — in a new offensive tackle.

In fairness, the Bears did make one quality addition to the interior of their offensive line with the signing of former Tennessee Titans guard Nate Davis to a three-year, $30 million contract. He projects to take over Cody Whitehair’s starting role from 2022, while Whitehair will either move back to his original spot at center — or potentially find himself on the chopping block as an aging veteran coming off a so-so year. If the Bears are convinced Whitehair can be an effective center again, they would have a much better interior with Davis, Whitehair and Teven Jenkins in place as starters.

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