The Bears offense features a talented tight end tandem in returning fourth-year pro Cole Kmet and veteran free-agent addition Robert Tonyan.
Kmet emerged as a key playmaker last season, leading the Bears in all receiving categories with 50 catches, 544 yards and seven touchdowns. Five of his TDs came in a three-game span during the middle of the season against the Cowboys, Dolphins and Lions. The 2020 second-round pick from Notre Dame also excelled as a blocker, helping the Bears lead the NFL in rushing.
"He's a complete tight end," said tight ends coach Jim Dray. "He can run and catch [and] he's a guy that we can lean on in terms of the run game. With the schemes that we run, it's very important to be a point-of-attack blocker. Either you have it or you don't—somebody that craves violence in the run game—and he has that."
A Chicago area native who graduated from McHenry High School, Tonyan joins the team he grew up rooting for after spending his first five NFL seasons with the Packers.
The 6-5, 240-pounder appeared in 68 games with 18 starts for Green Bay, catching 137 passes for 1,437 yards and 17 touchdowns. Last year Tonyan played in all 17 games with three starts and caught a career-high 53 passes for 470 yards and two TDs.
Tonyan spent three seasons in Green Bay working with Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, who served as Packers quarterbacks coach from 2019-21 and doubled as passing game coordinator in 2020-21.
"Robert is a great addition to our roster with his familiarity of the scheme and pass-catching ability," general manager Ryan Poles said after signing Tonyan in March.
Kmet and Tonyan first met a few years ago while participating in Tight End University, an annual three-day gathering of top tight ends in Nashville.
"He's a great dude," Kmet said. "I think me and him are going to do a lot of good things together when we're able to go [with two tight ends]. I'm really excited about it."
Other tight ends who will compete for playing time in training camp are Jake Tonges, Chase Allen and Stephen Carlson.
Tonges signed with the Bears last year as an undrafted free agent from California. He appeared in three games as a rookie, playing 16 snaps on offense and 11 on special teams against the 49ers, Texans, Giants and Eagles.
Allen joined the Bears last year as an undrafted free agent from Iowa State. He appeared in one game as a rookie, playing two snaps on offense and seven on special teams last Dec. 24 versus the Bills.
Carlson is a three-year veteran who signed with the Bears in May after participating in their rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. He entered the NFL in 2019 with the Browns as an undrafted free agent from Princeton. He appeared in 25 games with seven starts in his first two seasons in Cleveland, catching six passes for 62 yards and one TD. Carlson spent the entire 2021 season on injured reserve with a torn ACL.