It's easy to point to Gilmore's 12 career receptions, including just two over the past three seasons and say he doesn't do much for the team. However, if you listen his position coach Rob Boras the story is quite the opposite.
"Without a doubt he's a lunch pale guy," Boras said of Gilmore. "The two years I've coached him he has two catches. Unfortunately the position that I coach the guys that make the Pro Bowl are the guys that have the touchdowns and the catches and he understands that. But John is going to be the guy that's going to make those tough blocks and be the sixth offensive lineman that a lot of people aren't going to recognize. It's not the glorious position when goes into play."
Aside from being the best blocking tight end on the roster, the six-foot-5, 260-pounder is also a factor on special teams. He had five tackles in coverage last season and 23 for his career. He's also a vital part of the wedge return.
Gilmore came into the league as a sixth round pick of the New Orleans Saints in the 2002 draft. He failed to make the team and the Bears claimed him off waivers. Since then he's appeared in 55 games with 6 starts.
"John is the ultimate team player in my opinion and he brings a lot to the table," Boras said. "As a person, as a player. There are few of those guys. He's just a special person."
The Bears had just 28 receptions for 250 yards and three touchdowns from their tight ends in 2005. Without getting help at receiver in the free agent market, the team will likely turn their attention to tight end on the first day of the draft in an attempt to boost the passing game.
Desmond Clark has accounted for the vast majority of the limited production from the position. He had 24 receptions for 229 yards and two scores. Whoever the Bears take in the draft will push Clark for a starting role, thus leaving one opening at the position.
With Gilmore likely to leave, Gabe Reid is the frontrunner for the last spot. He has good hands, but his blocking is a major question mark.
While the Bears will be able to live without Gilmore, he's done everything right and should be rewarded with multi-year contract in Chicago. The fact that the team is squabbling over a few hundred-thousand-dollars when they have more than $20 million in cap space is another sign of an off-season that has left many scratching their heads.