Trey Burton’s Path
The big talk of the off-season was Trey Burton getting a 4-year/$32 million contract to play for the new and revamped Chicago Bears. The common thought, among anyone paying attention to the NFL, was that the newly hired offensive guru Matt Nagy was going to turn Burton into a star. So, what made the Bears pay so much for an undrafted Tight End that has only been a backup his entire career so far?
Let’s take a trip down the long path that led to this lucrative signing.
Trey Burton attended the University of Florida. He was originally recruited as a Quarterback and was primarily used as a Running Back. He was also used as a Wide Receiver and Tight End. He broke out with 12 touchdowns his freshman year, which included breaking Tim Tebow’s single-game touchdown record with 6. His production declined year after year however and ended up with only 1 touchdown his entire senior year.
Burton was invited to the 2014 combine as a Tight End. He ran a 4.62 40-yard dash, which was the 4th fastest of the Tight Ends. He went into the draft as a 7th round draft grade. There were 10 Tight Ends selected in the 2014 NFL Draft, but Burton was not one of them. He ended up signing as a rookie free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles as their 4th tight end.
Playing behind one of the top Tight Ends in the league, Burton only accumulated 3 receptions in his first 2 years. In 2016 he was utilized a bit more and ended up with 37 receptions and caught 1 touchdown. The 2017 season allowed Burton to show his versatility a little more. He ended up with 5 receiving touchdowns on the year and added a passing touchdown in the Super Bowl. He filled in nicely for an injured Zach Ertz when given the chance. In the 2 games that Ertz missed, Burton had 7 receptions for 112 yards and 3 touchdowns. After the 2017 season, Burton was set to test the free agent market.
The 2018 free agent Tight End crop was relatively weak with Burton, Graham, and Ebron headlining. Graham, with his 556 receptions, 6,800 yards, and 69 career touchdowns, signed the biggest contract of the group at 3 years/$30 million. Burton, with his 63 receptions, 629 yards, and 6 career touchdowns in 4 years signed a 4-year/$32 million contract with $22 million guaranteed.
The Bears offense in 2017 was absolutely abysmal under head coach John Fox and number 2 overall pick Mitch Trubisky was looking like a complete bust in his rookie campaign. In 9 of Trubisky’s 12 games played in 2017, he failed to reach 200 yards passing, and he only ended up with 7 touchdown passes. The addition of Nagy has drastically turned the Bears offense around and through just 8 games Trubisky has 16 touchdowns already. The offense is trending up with a lot with a lot of room for improvement still.
Burton has been the #7 Tight End so far this season in PPR formats. He has not done it with volume, however. His 5 touchdowns this year are tied for 3rd among Tight Ends. He has accomplished this on only 40 targets (#14), 29 receptions (#12), and 371 yards (#9). As you can see, his usage has not been what most have wanted to see so far. However, Burton has shown himself to be a red zone threat for Trubisky. So far this year he has 8 targets in the red zone, which leads the team, and has caught 7 of them. 4 of his 5 touchdowns on the year have come in the red zone. These numbers can show some hope that he will end up providing solid numbers for a Tight End. He is still only 27, and the average Tight End takes a few years before they produce normally.
It has yet to be determined if the Quarterback turned Tight End will be able to live up to the hype. For now, Burton is a top 12 dynasty Tight End that has a chance to grow with a young and talented Quarterback. He seems to be very touchdown dependent, unfortunately, which will definitely make him unpredictable. He has only had more than 28 yards in a game this year 3 times and caught more than 4 passes only once. If given the opportunity I would package Burton with a high pick to try and get a top tier Tight End.