July 19, 2024

Bears Analysis

Top 25 most important Bears in 2023: No. 25 Robert Tonyan

Tonyan joined his hometown Bears on 1-year contract in March

Tight end Robert Tonyan warms up before a game against the Washington Commanders, Sunday, October 23, 2022 in Landover.

Shaw Local is counting down the top 25 most important Bears for the 2023 season.

What makes one player more important than another? That’s subjective, of course. But for our purposes it comes down to this: Are the Bears worse off if this player can’t play? Does this player have untapped potential or past greatness to live up to? Is his story going to be one fans follow closely this season?

The best player on the team isn’t always the most important, but he certainly can be. We will release one player every day between now and the start of training camp.

No. 25 Robert Tonyan

Position: Tight end

NFL experience: Sixth season

Last year’s ranking: N/A

Looking back: Robert Tonyan tore his ACL eight games into the 2021 season. He was coming off a career year in which he scored 11 touchdowns in 2020, to go along with 52 catches and 586 receiving yards. His 11 receiving touchdowns that season were tied for the fifth-most in the NFL and tied with Travis Kelce for the most among tight ends. The then-Packers tight end was playing at the highest level of his career prior to the injury.

But in 2022, Tonyan bounced back and set a career mark with 53 receptions. He also totaled 470 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He appeared in all 17 games last season, making three starts. Without Davante Adams, the Packers’ passing attack took a step back, but Tonyan did his best to keep it moving forward.

Tonyan became a free agent after the season. He elected to sign a one-year, $2.65 million contract with the Bears in March. Doing so brings the McHenry native closer to home. Being closer to friends and family was a major reason why Tonyan signed with the team he grew up rooting for.

Looking forward: Now Tonyan joins a Bears roster that already has tight end Cole Kmet in the starting lineup. Kmet played 93% of the Bears’ offensive snaps, and that doesn’t seem likely to change. Kmet will still be the No. 1 tight end in this offense.

The Bears, however, lacked a viable No. 2 option at the position. Last season, Trevon Wesco played 17% of snaps, while Ryan Griffin played 15% of snaps at the tight end position. Griffin caught a total of four passes for 26 yards. Wesco was primarily a blocker. He caught two passes for 26 yards.

The Bears are looking for Tonyan to be the pass-catching threat as a No. 2 tight end who they didn’t have last season. Having two capable weapons at the position should give offensive coordinator Luke Getsy more flexibility and more opportunities to use two-tight end sets. That could be particularly valuable in the red zone.

Tonyan isn’t the same type of high-profile addition as receiver DJ Moore, but the Bears are hoping he makes this offense more dangerous in subtle ways.

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for the Shaw Local News Network. He has covered the Bears since 2020. Prior to writing about the Bears, he covered high school sports for the Northwest Herald and contributed to Friday Night Drive. Sean joined Shaw Media in 2016.