Should the Bears Resign Cole Kmet?

In this upcoming offseason the Bears have a lot to think about. One of those spots of consideration is tight end. After the 2023 season, Cole Kmet will be an unrestricted free agent, and contract negotiations can start. So the question remains: should the Bears resign Cole Kmet?

Chemistry With Justin Fields
It is obvious that Fields and Kmet have developed chemistry this season. One clear example was the Bears vs Packers game on December 4th where Kmet had one of his most impressive performances of the season. Fields’ targeted Kmet seven times. To add to this, according to Fields, he and Kmet have put in a ton of additional work after practice this season. Kmet and Fields have something exceptional. Having this connection will help Fields grow if the organization wants him to be the franchise quarterback for years to come.

What Will A Cole Kmet Extension Look Like?
The good news for the Bears is that it won’t be a costly extension. Recent rounds of tight-end contract extensions include Darren Waller (3 years/$51M) and Dawson Knox (4 years/$52M). Even so… Kmet is due for a raise that would significantly increase his current base salary of $1.8 million. To put that into context, among tight ends, he is number 40 on the pay scale. Even Ryan Griffin, who is also a tight end on the Bears, gets paid more than Cole Kmet with $2.25 million in yearly compensation.

With that being said, I was interested in the prediction and projection made by PFF’s Brad Spielberger:

Kmet’s extension, according to Spielberger, would cost an average of $12 million a year. Later, he would tweet that it might be a four-year agreement. We can therefore estimate a four-year deal at $48 million. Given everything, that isn’t as heavy as I anticipated.

With an AAV of about $12 million, Kmet’s contract would rank tenth among active tight end contracts on a yearly basis. With a projected total value of $48 million, Kmet would rank behind Pats tight end Jonnu Smith ($50M) and ahead of Saints versatile player Taysom Hill ($40M) to give a few examples.

Extensions ultimately boil down to money that is guaranteed. For instance, Smith received $31.25 million in guarantees for 2021 as part of his four-year contract for up to $50 million. Hunter Henry’s contract (3/$37.5M) contained $25 million in guarantees during the same offseason. I would thus venture to estimate that Kmet’s guarantees will start at $20 million. This is not horrible.

So Should The Bears Resign Cole Kmet?
I have to admit, an extension wasn’t on my radar at this time last year. But following his performance this season, Kmet showed that he was deserving of one. Besides, a Kmet extension would be a smart place to start because the Bears need to spend money to reach a certain minimum this offseason.
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