Jimmy Graham has largely been written off as a premier NFL tight end, but he’s adamant about proving he can still be a force after signing with the Bears.
The Bears agreed to a two-year, $16 million deal with Graham, which is actually more of a one-year shot with an easy out for the team after 2020, and he signed the contract Thursday.
In his first comments since joining the Bears, he made clear he’s driven by how he fizzled last season with the Packers.
“I’m still fast and I still have the ability to make big plays,” he said.” Obviously over the last two years, it’s been very difficult for me. In my career, up until these last two years, I’ve never really failed in that. It was a tough pill to swallow. It was the first time I’ve lost my job. I work extremely hard. I’ve sacrificed everything for this game. To go through that was difficult. Now I have the opportunity to win a bunch of games this year, and I’m very grateful for that.
“For me, it’s lit a fire. I know what kind of player I am and I know what I can do… If I didn’t think I had the ability to dominate this league, then I wouldn’t play anymore. But I still believe I have that ability.”
Graham was an all-pro in 2013 amid a six-year run in which he averaged 78 catches, 987 yards and nine touchdowns per season. In the three seasons since, he totaled 150 receptions, 1,603 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Last season, with the Packers, was his worst since his rookie year: 38 catches, 447 yards, three touchdowns. He never topped 65 yards in a game.
Graham’s playing time also slid from 74 percent in 2018 to 58 percent last season. The Packers played him 38 percent of the offensive snaps in their first playoff game and 43 percent in the second.