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Burton a key component of new Bears offense


The following is the fourth of nine position previews in advance of training camp.

The Bears will arrive in Bourbonnais July 19 with an upgraded tight end position after signing Super Bowl hero Trey Burton away from the Eagles.

Burton spent his first four NFL seasons in Philadelphia after arriving in 2014 as an undrafted free agent from Florida. He caught 37 passes for 327 yards and one touchdown in 2016 and 23 passes for 248 yards and five TDs in 2017.

Burton appealed to the Bears because he possesses the traits to excel at a key position in their new offense and has experience in the scheme, having played for coach Doug Pederson with the Eagles. Pederson worked with first-year Bears coach Matt Nagy on Andy Reid's staff with the Chiefs.

Burton landed on the Bears' radar not long after general manager Ryan Pace's first discussion with Nagy about offensive philosophy.

"The very first thing he said was the value of the 'U' tight end or the 'F' tight end, which is kind of that move tight end that's flexed out a lot," Pace said during the offseason. "So immediately my wheels started turning, 'OK, who is that in free agency, who is that potentially in the draft,' and we quickly identified Trey as a target.

"The more we dug into Trey, we just saw a lot of upside. He's very athletic. He's a mismatch on linebackers because of his route quickness, his speed and his football intelligence. Another positive factor is he knows this offense. Philadelphia runs the same offense that Matt runs. So [Burton] comes in right away and knows exactly what we're doing."

Burton initially made the Eagles roster as a special teams contributor. He later showed he could be a downfield pass-catching target, hauling in five touchdowns last year despite being third on Philadelphia's depth chart behind Zach Ertz and Brent Celek.

A former college quarterback, Burton tossed a 1-yard TD pass to quarterback Nick Foles on fourth-and-goal in the Eagles' 41-33 win over the Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

Three separate fantasy football columns on have identified Burton as a player who could post big numbers this season. In a column entitled "20 shocking fantasy football predictions for 2018," senior analyst Michael Fabiano wrote "it wouldn't shock me if Trey Burton is a top-10 fantasy tight end. Burton is in a great position to succeed with the Bears, as he will fill the Travis Kelce role in the offense of coach Matt Nagy. He's a high-upside player you can get late if you like to wait to pick a tight end."

Also at tight end, Adam Shaheen returns for his second NFL season after catching 12 passes for 127 yards and a team-leading three touchdowns while playing in 13 games.

Also back is veteran Dion Sims, who had 15 receptions for 180 yards and one TD while starting all 14 games he played in his first season with the Bears last year.

Asked during the offseason if Sims would have a role with the Bears this year, Nagy said: "The nice thing with Dion is that he's a guy that's proven to be a solid blocker. He can be in there and be your 'Y' tight end but yet he still has really good hands. He can make plays on intermediate routes. He's not going to be anybody that's a downfield threat—I think he knows that, we all know that—but he's a valuable piece of this puzzle."

Other tight ends who will compete for roster spots in training camp include returnees Daniel Brown and Ben Braunecker. Brown has appeared in 20 games with five starts for the Bears the past two seasons, catching 29 passes for 253 yards and one TD. Braunecker has four receptions for 41 yards in 21 games the past two years.