The Green Bay Packers are going to be down one more pass-catcher in 2023. Just a few days after it was announced that the New York Jets had come to an agreement with former Packers receiver Allen Lazard, the in-division Chicago Bears have reportedly signed tight end Robert Tonyan, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. According to Schefter, Tonyan signed on for a one-year deal.
The Packers are in a tight salary cap position right now, so it was always assumed that Tonyan would eventually leave during this free agency cycle, but I’m sure Green Bay’s staff is disappointed to see him leave for the Bears. In Chicago, Tonyan will be reunited with Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, who was previously a positional coach with the Packers.
Tonyan was one of the better stories on Green Bay’s roster. The former FCS receiver joined the Packers’ practice squad after failing to make the Detroit Lions’ team in 2017. From there on, he went on to play in 68 games for Green Bay, including 18 starts. Over the course of his career with the Packers, Tonyan hauled in 137 receptions for 1,437 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns as the pass-catching compliment to starter Marcedes Lewis’ hand-in-the-dirt playing style.
The McHenry, Illinois native grew up about an hour from Chicago, so it shouldn’t be surprising that he signed close to home. Losing both Tonyan and Lewis, though, would be a pretty painful pill for the Packers to swallow. A report on Tuesday linked Lewis to both the Las Vegas Raiders and the New York Jets, as Lewis is currently testing the market.
At the moment, Green Bay has four tight ends under contract but only two of them — Josiah Deguara and Tyler Davis — have ever played regular-season snaps for the team. Deguara is an off-line tight end who often plays in the backfield while Davis, who was re-signed on Wednesday after the team elected not to tender him, has mostly seen the field on special teams. In a worst-case scenario situation, Davis could be the team’s starting in-line tight end in 2023, but, thankfully, the upcoming draft class is very strong at the tight end position.