After re-signing last year's No. 1 tight end, Kellen Davis, to a two-year contract Wednesday evening, it will be interesting to see if the Bears actually throw him the football this year.
The 6-foot-7, 267-pound Davis led the team with 5 TD catches in 2011, impressive considering he only caught 18 passes in former offensive coordinator Mike Martz's offense that barely acknowledges the tight end in the passing game. But the Bears believe their 2008 fifth-round draft choice (158th overall) has the skill set to factor into the air attack.
"I think if you want to feature Kellen Davis, you can do that," Bears coach Lovie Smith said last month at the NFL Scouting Combine. "Great size, great in-line blocker, skilled enough of an athlete to be able to move outside and do some things. I really like him."
Davis has played in all 64 games in his four-year career and has 20 starts, including 15 last season. He has 28 career receptions for 300 yards (10.7-yard average) and 9 touchdowns. It is expected Davis will be targeted more by quarterback Jay Cutler in the scheme of new offensive coordinator Mike Tice, an NFL tight end for 14 years. That was a factor in Davis' decision to return to the Bears instead of remaining on the free-agent market. As far back as January, he expressed a desire to be more than a blocker.
"I'm never going to be able to make it to a Pro Bowl or do anything like that if I don't get any touches," he said. "For me, that's going to be a factor."
The Bears' quarterback position is set after Josh McCown agreed to terms Wednesday morning on a one-year contract for $825,000.
McCown is expected to compete with last year's fifth-round pick, Nathan Enderle, for the No. 3 job behind Jay Cutler and Jason Campbell, who was signed a day earlier.
McCown, who had been out of football last season and was coaching at a high school, was picked up by the Bears on Nov. 23 after Cutler suffered a fractured thumb. He played in three games and started the final two, compiling a 1-1 record as a starter. McCown completed 35 of 55 passes (63.6 percent) for 414 yards, 2 touchdowns, 4 interceptions and a passer rating of 68.3. He also ran 12 times for 68 yards, a 5.7-yard average.
The 6-foot-4, 213-pound nine-year veteran has started 33 NFL games with the Cardinals (2002-05), Lions (2006), Raiders (2007), Panthers (2008-09) and Bears (2011) after entering the league as a third-round selection (81st overall) by Arizona in the 2002 draft.
The Bears made another move to strengthen their already exceptional special teams when they agreed to terms Wednesday morning with wide receiver/kick-returner Eric Weems on a three-year contract.
The 2010 Pro Bowl special-teamer joins linebacker Blake Costanzo, who was signed on Tuesday after finishing second on the 49ers in 2011 with 17 special teams tackles.
The 5-foot-9, 195-pound Weems has 41 career special teams tackles, 815 punt-return yards and a touchdown on 77 attempts (10.6-yard average), and as a kick returner he had 2,896 yards and a touchdown on 113 attempts (25.6-yard average) in 55 games as a member of the Falcons. His 3,711 total kick-return yards are seventh in the NFL over the last five seasons. He ranks 10th in the NFL in punt-return average and 11th in kickoff-return average during that time.
Weems signed with the Falcons as an undrafted free agent out of Bethune-Cookman University in 2007. He also has 24 receptions for 205 yards (8.5-yard average) and 2 touchdowns. Weems had an NFL-playoff-record 102-yard kickoff-return touchdown in Atlanta's 2011 divisional-round playoff game against the Green Bay Packers.
According to NFL sources, backup quarterback Jason Campbell's one-year contract with the Bears has a base value of $3.5 million.
Campbell gets a $2 million signing bonus, a base salary of $1.4 million, and a $100,000 workout bonus. He can also earn another $1 million in playing-time incentives.