Jimmy Graham Highly Motivated After Joining Bears

"I'm that matchup problem," Graham says.

Chris Emma
March 26, 2020 - 5:08 pm
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(670 The Score) Ten years into a standout NFL career, Jimmy Graham is still highly motivated.

Graham is coming off a 2019 season in which he fell a game shy of the Super Bowl with the Packers. He was released by Green Bay earlier in March, marking the first time he had been cut. The 33-year-old Graham then hit the open market realizing that many across the league doubted him.

Graham soon found a home by agreeing to a contract with Chicago, where he's hopeful he can finally win a Super Bowl ring and be a key part of the offense.

"If I didn't think that I had the ability to dominate this league, then I wouldn't play anymore," Graham said on a teleconference Thursday. "But I still believe that I have that ability.

"I'm going to give them everything I got."

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Graham signed a two-year, $16-million deal, which became official Thursday. The contract includes $9 million guaranteed, all to be paid in 2020. Graham can be released in 2021 with a $3-million cap hit. Given their financial commitment in Graham, the Bears are betting on the five-time Pro Bowl tight end still having more in the tank. Graham had 38 catches (on 60 targets) for 447 yards in 16 games for the Packers last season.

Graham felt his play was hindered in recent years in part by a lingering knee issue, which stemmed from a ruptured patellar tendon that he suffered in 2015. He now feels that knee is at its healthiest point since he had surgery on it.

As he made his decision in free agency, Graham believed the Bears suited him best because of the importance of tight ends in coach Matt Nagy's offense. After reaching a deal with the Bears, Graham requested film of every pass targeted to the team's tight ends over the last two years.

He wanted to get a feel for how Nagy can use him.

"To be able to use matchups and to be able to use the tight end down the field, it’s just very attractive," Graham said. "That’s what I am, I’m that matchup problem. For me to get back to that and get back to running down the field and get back to scoring touchdowns and helping the team push toward the playoffs, that’s what I care about."

Graham was forced to swallow a bitter pill at the end of his two seasons with the Packers. His hopes of winning the Super Bowl were dashed in Green Bay's loss at San Francisco in the NFC Championship game, then the Packers parted ways with him. 

In seeking a fresh start, Graham told his agent he wanted a team that was ready to win. 

"You have a team that's hungry to win, hungry to improve and hungry to get back to the playoffs and make a chase at a ring," Graham said. "That's what was attractive to me from what I saw on the outside.

"Chicago deserves a Super Bowl. They haven't had one since 1985. Now is the time, with the kind of team that Ryan Pace has built. 

"That's why I wanted to be in Chicago."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.