He caught on with the Lions for $1 million last year and briefly pushed Eric Ebron out of the lineup, making him one of the more popular Lions to the Detroit fanbase.
He caught 17 passes for 177 yards and three scores before Ebron took back his job as the primary pass-catching tight end.
As a player who turns 32 in April, Fells probably isn’t going to turn into a useful tight end anytime soon, but the Browns gave him a three-year, $12 million deal to presumably serve as a blocking tight end next to David Njoku.
You and I are not the same if you can watch Vea almost single-handedly destroy a play by jacking up the left tackle and pushing him back into path of the pulling right guard and right tackle on a counter, forcing the running back to cut back right into his waiting arms without at least whispering “Hot damn!”
And these kind of plays happened in all four games I watched.
The only other guy I can recall tossing offensive lineman around the way Vea did in college in the last decade was Ndamukong Suh. As a matter of fact, Suh is exactly who Vea reminds me of on the field at times.
The Raiders repeatedly turned to Carrie after David Amerson and Sean Smith struggled, and while their pass defense was still a brutal 30th in DVOA, Carrie arguably kept it from being worse.
Bears general manager Ryan Pace made a pair of investments at tight end last year in signing blocking tight end Dion Sims and drafting freak athlete Adam Shaheen in the second round, so it’s a bit of a surprise that he’s making a third foray into the market, but Burton is a more complete player than either of those two.
This is likely more of a referendum on Shaheen, given that Burton will probably occupy two-tight-end sets alongside Sims to start the season.
The four-year, $32 million deal Burton signed is hardly insignificant; he now holds the third-largest average annual salary for a tight end in the league behind Jordan Reed and Travis Kelce, each of whom had much more impressive campaigns before signing their deals.
(With four years and $31.25 million left on his deal, it’s perhaps notable that Ertz is in line to make less money than his former backup.) If Burton hits that upside, he’ll be worth the money he’s getting as part of this contract, but a lot of teams pay for the best-case scenario in free agency and end up getting something significantly less.