After the Packers cut him this month, tight end Jimmy Graham talked with his agent about what he wanted in his next team. He kept coming back to the same word he used Thursday to describe the Bears, who signed him to a two-year deal.
‘‘I see a team that’s hungry,’’ Graham said. ‘‘I see a coaching staff that’s hungry. And I see an ownership that’s hungry. Chicago deserves a Super Bowl. They haven’t had one since 1985. For me, now is the time.’’
That sounds great, of course. But the best thing Graham could hope to get from his new team is a competent quarterback.
Can he say that definitively about the Bears? Their newest passer, Nick Foles, is a former Super Bowl MVP. But he has started more than half his team’s regular-season games only twice in eight years. And Mitch Trubisky was so bad last season that competent play would qualify as a massive upgrade in 2020.
Graham has benefitted from great quarterback play his entire career. He has teamed with the Saints’ Drew Brees, the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson and, for the last two seasons, the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers. His teams have won 97 regular-season games in 10 years.
‘‘I think at all three stops we’ve had pretty good players,’’ Graham said. ‘‘Obviously, that helps. We’ve had, as well, a great culture. I’ve been a part of three different cultures, and they’re very unique in their own way and how the coaches have kind of led that culture.
‘‘For me, that’s why I’m also excited to be a Bear. I’ve seen the culture that [coach] Matt Nagy has built in Chicago.’’
A feel-good culture won’t matter if the quarterback can’t make the throws. The Bears proved that last season.
‘‘I’ve had the opportunity to watch Trubisky over the past few years,’’ Graham said. ‘‘I mean, the kid’s got a lot of talent, obviously. What he did two years ago and how he dominated was exciting to see, as well as what Nick Foles has done in this league with winning a Super Bowl.
‘‘I’ve got a lot of confidence in our coaching staff and our quarterback room, and I’m excited to work with these guys. Obviously, that’s kind of one of the big stories this offseason is our quarterback room. But I’m excited to work with both of them and to see where I can help both of them and where we can all get on the same page.’’
The coronavirus outbreak has left the Bears’ next team gathering up in the air. It might not happen until training camp. Graham asked the team to send him the film of every pass play that targeted the tight end the last two seasons. He wants to know what Nagy’s offense tries to do down the field and in the red zone.
In the meantime, he might have stumbled upon the Bears’ next slogan.
The 2018 ‘‘Be You’’ Bears were a celebration of personality. They created ‘‘Club Dub’’ celebrations and popularized on-field choreography.
The 2019 Bears talked about ‘‘Chasing Great,’’ taking the next step from being a playoff contender to playing for a title. A year after establishing a winning culture, Nagy focused on details, teaching his players leadership tenets from a book about New Zealand’s ‘‘All Blacks’’ rugby team.
After going 8-8, the Bears’ 2020 theme should be rooted in humility. How about ‘‘Hungry’’?
‘‘To see, obviously, a team coming off a season that was disappointing, I see a team that’s hungry,’’ Graham said.