By Jeff DickersonESPN Staff Writer
There was a period last summer when tight end was considered the Chicago Bears' deepest positon.
But at season’s end, Chicago’s tight ends combined to catch just 60 passes for 672 yards.
Where did it go wrong?
For starters, the group’s lowest moment occurred in Week 8, when popular veteran Zach Miller -- the Bears' most productive tight end with 20 receptions for 236 yards and two touchdowns -- suffered a gruesome dislocated knee that required emergency surgery to save his left leg.
Without Miller, 33, the Bears lacked a proven leader at the positon, and they also lost their most talented and reliable pass-catching tight end.
An unrestricted free agent, Miller’s football career is at a crossroads, but his life after football appears bright.
Further complicating matters last season was the fact that starter Dion Sims, whom Bears general manager Ryan Pace signed to a three-year deal that paid him $6 million guaranteed in 2017, actually regressed offensively (15 catches, 180 yards, one touchdown) from the season before in Miami (26 receptions, 256 yards, four TDs).
Sims’ $6 million base salary in 2018 becomes fully guaranteed on the third day of the league year. That’s the kind of money reserved for two-way tight ends. The Bears didn’t sign Sims just to block. It’s safe to say Chicago needs better play out of Sims if he’s still on the team next month; the Bears would open up $5,666,666 of salary-cap space if they release Sims before his guarantee kicks...