15 Most Impactful Bears of 2022: No. 9 Cole Kmet

The Chicago Bears wrapped their 2022 season, where they finished 3-14 and lost their final 10 games of the year. But the future is bright heading into this 2023 offseason, as GM Ryan Poles has the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, a boatload of salary cap space ($118 million) and a franchise quarterback in Justin Fields.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be counting down our 15 Most Impactful Bears for the 2022 season. We’ll recap their 2022 season and look ahead to how they factor into 2023.

Next up at No. 9 is tight end Cole Kmet, who had a breakout season as one of Justin Fields’ most reliable weapons in 2022.

Background

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Position: Tight end

Age: 23

Experience: 3rd year

2022 cap hit: $2.07 million

2022 stats

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  • 50 catches, 544 yards, 7 touchdowns

  • 2 carries, 9 yards, 0 touchdowns

  • 17 games

2022 recap

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Heading into the 2022 season, there were many that questioned whether Kmet had what it took to be the Bears’ franchise tight end. But Kmet answered those doubts with an impressive campaign that showed how valuable he is to this team. Kmet had a breakout season in 2022, where he led the Bears in three statistical categories: receptions (50), receiving yards (544) and touchdowns (7) — also a career high. More than that, he proved to be the most reliable pass catcher for quarterback Justin Fields.

While Kmet certainly needs to improve as a blocker, he’s proven to be a valuable asset for Luke Getsy’s offense. And he’s someone who’s proven to be a security blanket of sorts for Fields. Kmet isn’t the most explosive player in the passing game, but he’s someone who brings consistency to the offense and can get you those extra yards with his physicality.

2023 outlook

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Kmet is entering the final year of his rookie deal, and there’s a good chance Ryan Poles tries to lock down Kmet for the long term this offseason. The passing game will be a focal point this offseason, and there’s a good chance Kmet finds similar success in 2023, as he’s become one of Fields’ favorite targets and has thrived in this scheme. And the exciting thing is that he’s still capable of more. While the Bears should look to add some depth behind Kmet — be it in free agency or the NFL draft — there’s no denying Kmet is the top guy at tight end heading into 2023.

15 Most Impactful Bears of 2022

We’re counting down our 15 Most Impactful Bears of 2022. Check back every day.

15. LT Braxton Jones

14. CB Kyler Gordon

13. DT Justin Jones

12. RB David Montgomery

11. RB Khalil Herbert

10. CB Jaylon Johnson

9. TE Cole Kmet

8. COMING 1/23

7. COMING 1/24

6. COMING 1/25

5. COMING 1/26

4. COMING 1/27

3. COMING 1/28

2. COMING 1/29

1. COMING 1/30

Story originally appeared on Bears Wire