Dustin Keller Could Be the Solution to Bears' Tight End Woes

Andrew Garda@andrew_gardaFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 22:   Dustin Keller #81 of the New York Jets tries to get around   Steve Gregory #28 of the New England Patriots on November 22, 2012 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

I was watching Aaron Nagler in a recent B/R video on underrated free agents when it hit me—one of the players he is talking about, Dustin Keller, is the perfect solution for the Chicago Bears.

One of the key positions Bears fans will be watching during the upcoming combine will be tight end. It's not the primary issue for Chicago—that remains the offensive line as it has for the better part of five years—and given the shallow tight-end pool, it is one which has to be addressed early.

If you find those two things diametrically opposed, you're not alone.

The best bet for the Bears would be to take care of one of the two positions in free agency. There are certainly tackles available to look at, but unrestricted free agent Keller is a perfect solution for the Bears' tight end dilemma and likely higher quality for less money than a top tackle.

Now, the New York Jets could franchise tag Keller—Lord knows they have very little to use the tag on—but that could be expensive for a player they have yet to be able to utilize to the fullest of his abilities.

Keller is a big, athletic tight end with good hands and the ability to go vertical as well as make tough catches across the middle.

He's been stuck in New York with Mark Sanchez throwing him the ball, while mediocre playcalling continues to drag the offense down.

While he had some struggles holding onto the ball a few years ago, that was in part because Sanchez was unable to throw with consistent accuracy. Keller worked through the issues on his end, but was hurt too often during the 2012 season to capitalize on a career high 815 yards in 2011.

While the Bears have a great receiver in Brandon Marshall, a consistent one in Earl Bennett and an up and comer with talent in Alshon Jeffery, they don't have anyone who they can rely on at tight end.

Keller is young, lacks the off-field baggage of a Fred Davis and has higher upside than a guy like Martellus Bennett.

After several frustrating seasons with the Jets, Keller might be looking for fresh opportunities with a team that can contend for a playoff spot or more.

The Bears can offer that and a quarterback who is far more accurate and reliable than Sanchez has been to date.

The only snag could be money. Keller won't ask to break the bank, but Henry Melton, Israel Idonije, Nick Roach and Geno Hayes are free agents and some combination will definitely be a priority to sign.

If they can work the money out—and we all know there is always a way—it's a win-win for both sides and will put the Bears in a good position heading into the draft.

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