BOCA RATON, Fla. — Bears general manager Ryan Pace likes what he has at tight end, but he knows he needs more. He won’t hide the fact that his team continues to look at tight ends in free agency and the draft.
“We’re still pursuing some things,” Pace said Tuesday during the NFL owners meetings. “And so I like Zach Miller. I like Khari Lee. Those are guys who have talent. I like [Rob] Housler.
“But as you guys [the media] know, we’re still entertaining some other options that are out there. So that’s sort of an ongoing, a fluid process as we speak.”
It’s a fluid process that turned into a signing after Pace met the media.
The Bears signed Saints tight end Josh Hill, a restricted free agent, to an offer sheet, a source confirmed. It’s a three-year deal. The Saints have five days to match the Bears’ offer or they will lose Hill without compensation.
Tight end is a priority for Pace after he traded Martellus Bennett and a sixth-round pick to the Patriots for a fourth-round selection in this year’s draft. Pace said there were other teams that were interested in acquiring Bennett.
“In this case, it was an example of a deal where we felt it was really win-win for all parties,” Pace said. “We were able to move up in the draft, and we think this is a strong draft. Now having two fourth-round picks is valuable to us.”
But this year’s draft class for tight ends is considered thin. That’s why it’s pertinent the Bears continue to explore all options in free agency.
Hill recently met with the Bears. He was an undrafted free-agent signing for the Saints in 2013, when Pace was in the Saints’ front office. In three seasons, Hill has 36 catches for 340 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Bears did meet with Arkansas’ Hunter Henry, who is widely considered the best tight end of the class, at the NFL Scouting Combine last month.
“It’s OK,” Pace said of the tight-end draft class. “The way offenses are now in college, the tight end is becoming harder to evaluate. A lot of the time those guys are spread out so you don’t get to see them in-line and blocking as much. So I’d say it’s OK.”
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