Let's not beat around the bush: Kellen Davis is not a reliable pass-catching tight end. As a member of the Chicago Bears the last five seasons, Davis has caught a total of 47 passes for 529 yards. To give you an idea of how bad that is, in just the second half of the season last year, Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys caught 52 passes for 501 yards.
The Bears re-signed Davis to a two-year deal last offseason with the hope that, with Mike Martz and his don't-throw-to-the-tight-ends offense gone, Davis could finally have his breakout campaign. Instead, he caught just 19 passes for 229 yards and 2 TDs. And according to Pro Football Focus (PFF), he dropped nearly 30 percent of the passes thrown his way.
Folks, that's downright ridiculous.
It would be shocking if new head coach Marc Trestman re-inserts Davis as the primary receiving tight end next year. In fact, it would be surprising if he's even on the team come training camp.
With Matt Spaeth more of a blocker and Evan Rodriguez converted to fullback, there is no other realistic option at tight end on Chicago's current roster. As such, GM Phil Emery is going to have to scour free agency to find a suitable upgrade. Let's break down his options (unrestricted free agents only).
TE Brandon Myers
Brandon Myers (6-3, 256), Oakland Raiders, Age: 27
Myers started 16 games for the first time in his career last season, resulting in 79 catches for 806 yards and 4 TDs. That type of production would send Chicago's passing attack to a near-elite level. Myers has very good hands, runs solid routes and has good after-the-catch ability. The downside is he can't block a lick. PFF graded him the absolute worst run blocking tight end in the league last year, and it wasn't even close. But with Matt Spaeth on the roster, the Bears could live with Myers' inept blocking. Myers would provide exactly what Chicago's aerial attack needs.
Martellus Bennett (6-6, 265), N.Y. Giants, Age: 26
After spending four years backing up Witten in Dallas, Bennett signed a one-year deal with the Giants last season. He finished 2012 with 55 catches for 626 yards and 5 TDs. He's a solid pass-catching option and a very good blocker as well. He's the most well-rounded tight end in this free agent class. Unfortunately for the Bears, Bennett recently said he wants to retire in New York and may take a pay cut to stay in the Big Apple. Still, for a 26-year-old about to enter his prime, a fat contract could lure him into Chicago, where he'd instantly become a weapon down the middle of Soldier Field.
Anthony Fasano (6-4, 255), Miami Dolphins, Age: 28
Fasano has been the full-time starter in Miami the last five seasons. During that time, he's never had more than 41 receptions or 528 receiving yards in a single campaign, yet he's also never had fewer than 32 catches or 332 receiving yards. So you know what you're getting with Fasano. He's not flashy but he's an experienced, steady player who can also block. It's unlikely the Dolphins will re-sign him, so Fasano will be available for the taking. The Bears could do much worse.
Fred Davis (6-4, 247), Washington Redskins, Age: 27
After a 2011 season where he caught 59 passes for 796 yards – in just 12 games played – the Redskins slapped the franchise tag on Davis last year. He caught 24 passes for 325 yards before a torn Achilles ended his season in Week 7. He may not be ready by the start of next year and it's unclear when he'll reach full health. Considering the hefty contract for which he'll be asking, it would be best for the Bears to pass on Davis.
Dustin Keller (6-2, 250), N.Y. Jets, Age: 28
Due to various injuries last season, Keller started only five games. Still, his numbers (28 catches, 317 yards, 2 TDs) were still better than Kellen Davis. Two years ago, Keller caught 65 passes for 815 yards and 5 TDs. In fact, from 2008-2011, he never had fewer than 45 catches and 522 receiving yards in a season. He's a very productive tight end that opposing safeties would have to respect in the middle of the field.
Jared Cook (6-5, 248), Tennessee Titans, Age: 26
In 2011, Cook caught 49 passes for 759 yards and 3 TDs. He regressed some last year – 44 receptions, 523 yards, 4 TDs – but that's likely due to poor quarterback play. He's a very talented player who has yet to reach his ceiling. The question is, will he ever reach that ceiling? Either way, he's definitely an upgrade and could turn into a steal. Cook is a very good option for the Bears.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.