Things were bleak for the Bears' tight end room in 2023. Of all three guys that made appearances last year, only Cole Kmet had more than 150 receiving yards on the season – Robert Tonyan (112) and Mercedes Lewis (29) were basically non-factors for all 17 games (though Lewis only appeared in 5). With the team set to overhaul their passing-offense core this offseason, almost every free agent and draft eligible tight end has been linked to the Bears. That includes Pro Football Focus, who recently mocked up a huge list of free agent TEs and where their best fits may be. The Bears, unsurprisingly, found their way into the article multiple times.
PFF's first suggestion? Seahawks tight end Noah Fant, who will be an unrestricted free agent after six years spent between Denver and Seattle:
"Fant still shows flashes of the top-end athleticism that made him the No. 20 overall pick out of Iowa back in the 2020 NFL Draft, including a pivotal 51-yard catch-and-run from Drew Lock in Week 4 against the Giants that set up a touchdown. Fant has averaged at least 4.5 yards after the catch per reception in all five seasons of his career while posting a career drop rate of just 3.4%. Chicago adds a move tight end who can work well alongside Cole Kmet as the inline tight end while also reuniting with offensive coordinator Shane Waldron."
The connection makes a lot of sense, especially with Waldron being as familiar with Fant as he is. Statistically, Fant's coming off the worst season of his career: his receptions (32), yards (414), and touchdowns (0) were all a career-low, though not terribly out of line with his his averages from other seasons. And truthfully, considering the Bears' production from that position, they'd probably take that again next year.
The other tight end PFF speculated on? The Chargers' Gerald Everett:
"This is Chicago going the veteran route as opposed to the younger Fant. New offensive coordinator Shane Waldron was the Los Angeles Rams‘ tight ends coach in 2017 when a rookie Everett was their second-round pick. Everett and Kmet run hard in space and look to bowl over defenders, but Everett is far more shifty and can make defenders miss in space. This could be a strong duo to bolster 12-personnel looks after Robert Tonyan struggled to produce in 2023."
Though he played in two less games than Fant did this past season, Everett's stats look somewhat similar: 51 receptions, 411 yards, three touchdowns. Like PFF mentions, he's three years older than Fant, and has been playing in the league for two years longer. Though neither have spectacular stats, both guys would fit in well as depth pieces at Halas Hall. Especially if the Bears manage to land Brock Bowers in this April's draft, a room with Kmet, Bowers, and one of those two guys would look pretty good.