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Bears defend signing ‘very motivated’ TE Jimmy Graham

Coach Matt Nagy said “there’s a lot more than just looking at numbers” — Graham’s 38 catches for 447 yards last year were the lowest figures in both categories since his rookie year.

 NFC Championship - Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers
The Bears signed tight end Jimmy Graham last month.
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

No player the Bears added this offseason has been more scrutinized than Jimmy Graham.

Less than a week after the Packers decided Graham wasn’t worth a one-year, $8 million deal, the Bears last month gave him a two-year pact worth $16 million — with $9 million guaranteed.

Asked to explain, the Bears said they believe they can get more out of him.

“I think it’s a good example where we are all connected to a vision with a player on our team,” general manager Ryan Pace, who worked for the Saints when Graham starred there at the start of the last decade, said Friday. “You start with the physical evaluation on the player. He’s a guy we know well. But then you have to fit with our offensive scheme.

“And I just think there are a lot of discussions on how to maximize Jimmy Graham in this offense, and that’s with [coach] Matt [Nagy] and all of our offensive coaches and our scouts.”

Nagy said “there’s a lot more to it than just looking at numbers” — Graham’s 38 catches for 447 yards last year were the lowest figures in both categories since his rookie year.

“When you talk to him, as well, you understand the knowledge that he has for the game,” Nagy said. “He’s very, very motivated right now, which I love. And so it’s just a fit for us of a big-sized, 6-6 playmaker that you can get some mismatches with.

“And I know me personally, I’m very, very looking forward to being able to put him in some great situations.”