On the primary day of Bears minicamp Tuesday, Graham revealed that he did briefly ponder retirement following the playoff loss, however he determined to proceed enjoying after talking to basic supervisor Ryan Tempo and coach Matt Nagy.
“I definitely did [consider retiring] for a second there, for a bit bit, [but] I’ve obtained plenty of unfinished enterprise,” stated Graham, who spent his first 5 NFL seasons with the Saints from 2010-14. “It was very troublesome for me to return within the dome and particularly to lose. I am a reasonably fiery particular person. I am a reasonably enthusiastic particular person. And I hate dropping, easy as that.
“It was plenty of frustration there as a result of I have not received a hoop, and that is all I take into consideration. So simply figuring out that it is one other 12 months, I wasn’t positive what I used to be going to do. However I talked to Ryan and I talked to Matt, and I am on board and I am able to do no matter it takes to get again in that place and to maneuver ahead and hopefully to make a run.”
Graham is among the most prolific tight ends in NFL historical past, rating fourth all-time on the place with 82 landing receptions and sixth with 699 receiving yards. However the 34-year-old has by no means reached the Tremendous Bowl—regardless of enjoying with future Corridor of Fame quarterbacks Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers.
“Jimmy’s achieved plenty of issues individually,” Nagy stated. “He is scored plenty of touchdowns. He is been enjoying with plenty of nice quarterbacks. He is been in nice offenses. He is received plenty of video games. However I say this and I imply this: This man cares about one factor and one factor solely, and that is that trophy. He desires to win the Tremendous Bowl. That is the one factor he cares about.
“So for him to resolve to come back again right here and to proceed to play, he isn’t doing it for information. He isn’t doing it as a result of he simply desires to play a bit bit extra or get another 12 months in. He is doing it as a result of he believes that we now have the flexibility to be actually good. He is aware of that. And he’s a invaluable, invaluable piece of this offense in so many alternative methods—within the classroom, at observe and on recreation day—that’s simply value each penny.”
Graham proved his value final season, main the Bears with eight landing receptions whereas additionally mentoring the workforce’s high draft decide, rookie tight finish Cole Kmet.
“We’re tremendous excited to have the ability to get him again right here and proceed to know type of what his position’s going to be now on this offense,” Nagy stated of Graham. “[He’s] certainly one of my favourite gamers I’ve ever coached. I’ve discovered rather a lot from him, and I simply love his mentality and assume we’re fortunate to have him.”
A exercise warrior, Graham solely determined to return to play in 2021 after figuring out that his physique was up for the problem.
“I really feel like I can nonetheless be used and I can nonetheless be a weapon and I can nonetheless be a frontrunner for this workforce,” Graham stated, “and assist these younger children to make a run and to share a few of my information of what been by way of on this league and the wins and the teachings I’ve discovered.”