What to Know: Former Packers TE Robert Tonyan joins Chicago Bears
Another former member of the Green Bay Packers is going to a division rival. This time it’s tight end Robert Tonyan on a one-year deal, according to Adam Schefter. Tonyan will reunite with former Packers quarterback coach and current Bears’ offensive coordinator Luke Getsy.
Tonyan has been with the Packers since the 2018 season and has developed into a very reliable pass-catching option during that time. He had a career year in 2020, catching 60 of his 66 passes at 11.1 yards per catch with 12 touchdowns.
Then coming off an ACL injury that cut his 2021 season short, Tonyan would catch 84 percent of his 63 targets for 470 yards and two touchdowns this past year. After averaging 11.1 and 11.3 yards per catch in 2020 and 2021, Tonyan’s average plummeted to only 8.9 yards, which ranked 34th out of 42 eligible tight ends, according to PFF ($$).
In part, this may have been due to him still working his way back from a significant injury. But it also could be attributed to how Green Bay utilized him, with his average depth of target being just 6.0 yards from the line of scrimmage. For reference, it was 10.0 in 2021. Oftentimes, it felt like Tonyan was more of a safety blanket in the passing game than anything else.
As I wrote about in my ‘Re-sign or Let go & Prediction’ series, I did think that a reunion with Tonyan made sense. The tight end room is barren right now, with only Josiah Degaura, Austin Allen, and Nick Guggemos. Green Bay is in need of both playmaking and depth at the position.
The good news is that this year’s tight end draft class is loaded, with Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com having 11 players with third-round grades or better. The Packers should for sure spend an early-round pick on the position and consider leaving the draft with two tight end selections.
However, it’s worth mentioning that historically, most tight ends don’t contribute to the passing game in a significant way during their first season, given the difficult of the jump from college to the NFL.
This is why, in addition to the draft pick(s), the Packers should also bring in a veteran free agent signing to provide some stability as a rookie goes through likely growing pains. Again, why I thought re-signing Tonyan – at the right price – made sense.
A dynamic presence in the passing game at the tight end position is one surefire way to give this Packers offense some added juice in 2023. Just look around at a number of this year’s playoff teams, many had an impactful pass-catching threat at tight end that defenses had to contend with.