Former Packers Playmaker Signs with Hated Rival: Report

Getty Former Green Bay Packers tight end Robert Tonyan is heading to Chicago.

The Green Bay Packers are losing multiple veterans to free agency this offseason, but tight end Robert Tonyan will be drawing plenty of anger from fans after signing on with the team’s hated NFC North rival.

Multiple former Packers have already signed on with new teams, including Allen Lazard who was able to land a four-year, $44 million contract with the New York Jets. While Lazard is hoping that he will reunite with Aaron Rodgers in New York, other veterans like Tonyan had to find other options.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted on Thursday, March 16 that the 28-year-old tight end had signed a one-year deal to join the Chicago Bears.

ESPN’s Dianna Russini had tweeted a list of players Rodgers reportedly wanted to bring with him to Green Bay. The wish list included former teammates and even star wideout Odell Beckham Jr., but Tonyan’s name wasn’t mentioned. Instead, the veteran tight end will be hoping to have a positive impact on Chicago’s offense while catching passes from an exciting young quarterback in Justin Fields.

A Disappointing Comeback for Robert Tonyan

After breaking onto the scene early in his NFL career, Tonyan wasn’t able to have the same kind of impact for the Packers in 2022. Despite that, Tonyan has had an impressive run considering how he even made it into the NFL.

Tonyan was an undrafted free agent back in 2017 out of Indiana State, where he was initially a quarterback for the Sycamores. After initially being picked up by the Detroit Lions as a UDFA, Tonyan was cut during training camp and scooped up by the Packers later in the 2017 season.

It wasn’t until halfway through the 2018 season that Tonyan finally got his big break, catching a 54-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers for his first career reception against the Seattle Seahawks. His breakout campaign came two seasons later in 2020, when he caught 52 passes for 586 yards and a league-leading 11 touchdowns among tight ends.

The 28-year-old suffered a major setback in 2021, tearing his ACL in Week 8 against the Arizona Cardinals, mere months away from his first serious payday via free agency. The Packers brought him back on a one-year deal for 2022, but his impact was limited to 44 receptions for 362 yards and a single touchdown.

After shaking the rust off last season, Tonyan will have a chance at a fresh start and an opportunity to secure a larger payday in the 2024 offseason with a productive season for the Bears.

Latest on Aaron Rodgers

While veterans like Tonyan and Lazard are already gone, Rodgers is waiting patiently for the Packers to trade him off to the Jets.

Rodgers opened up about his situation during an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show, stating that he intends to play for the Jets in 2023. However, Rodgers also noted that the Packers were dragging their feet through the process as they attempt to maximize their return in a possible trade.

With Rodgers opening up about his intentions and very few alternatives remaining for the Jets, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst has quite a bit of leverage in the situation.  Because of his contract and pending dead cap hit, the Packers can afford to hold onto Rodgers all the way up to Week 1. Justis Mosqueda with Acme Packing Company outlined the situation that both sides are facing, and why the Packers have all of the leverage.

There’s plenty of time left for a deal to get done, and as of right now it appears that the Packers are fine with waiting patiently.

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