Recently cut Bears tight end Trey Burton signed with the Colts this week and said in his introductory news conference that the health issue that kept him out of the 2019 playoff game against the Eagles was mishandled.
Burton added that he was hurried back for training camp last summer, which ended up further derailing his season. General manager Ryan Pace said in September everything was handled correctly with Burton’s rehab.
“I was kind of rushed back into playing and not necessarily having the time to recover that I should’ve had,” Burton said Friday. “I tried to fight through the season. Every week was — I mean when I say a struggle, that is a light term for it. It was rough, man. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play coming up to almost every Sunday.”
Nonetheless, the Bears indicated several times over the last few months that Burton was part of their 2020 plans before cutting him last week. It appears they also conveyed that intention privately to Burton, who was blindsided by being released two seasons into a four-year, $32 million contract.
“The surprise level was kind of high,” Burton said. “I didn’t have a trace of that happening leaving the facility at the end of the year. Even the conversations that we had during the offseason were really positive. Everybody seemed to be excited about me getting healthy and getting ready to play this upcoming year.”
Burton signed in 2018 for his first opportunity as a full-time starter and had a career year of 54 catches, 569 yards and six touchdowns.
That season ended disappointingly, though, as Burton missed the playoff game because of what he initially thought was a groin injury. He underwent sports hernia surgery months later.
When he returned for training camp last summer, he lasted less than a week before being put on an individual training program to continue rehabbing from the injury. He went on injured reserve in November and finished with 14 catches for 84 yards.
“He had a good first year for us, but unfortunately for him and for us, the injuries kind of added up,” Pace said when asked why he released Burton rather than wait to see how he looked this summer. “We just felt at this time that was the best course of action for our team.”
Burton signed with the Colts five days later, reuniting with coach Frank Reich, who was his offensive coordinator in Philadelphia in 2016 and ’17.
The Bears took a $7.5 million dead salary-cap hit (spread over 2020 and ’21) to escape the two years and $17.4 million left on Burton’s deal. They will pay about $3.1 million of his $4 million salary this season.
Burton underwent hip surgery in December, which the Bears believed would finally solve the issue, and was expected to be back to full speed by training camp this year. He said he is ahead of schedule and should be ready in two months.
Burton said that procedure was the one he “should’ve gotten to start out with,” as opposed to the sports hernia surgery.