The Bears come out swinging when the NFL’s rule breaking period opens
NFC North Reporter
With nearly $80 million in cap space to spend, the Chicago Bears wasted no time making a move to 2023 at the start of the NFL’s statutory waiver window.
Of course, that’s an oxymoron, but it’s all part of the game, and the Bears took a few-square lead a few minutes into noon ET on Monday. Chicago signed free agent TJ Edwards fresh off a Super Bowl appearance with the Philadelphia Eagles, and later nabbed linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and defensive end Nate Davis almost simultaneously in a blockbuster deal.
Edwards, a former undrafted free agent, made a significant impact in Philadelphia last January when the team hoisted the Halas Trophy in the NFC championship game. He was the defensive signal-caller who carried the green dot to give defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon field plays.
The Chicago-area native played football at Wisconsin State and was the sixth-best linebacker in the NFL last year according to Pro Football Focus. He impressed current Bears linebacker Jack Sanborn in college and moved into the starting role during his rookie season last season. With the terms announced for Edwards, including just $12 million guaranteed, the Bears got great value for the defensive cornerstone of a three-year contract.
Bears get help for Justin Fields, secure future with No. 1 trade
The Bears are young with their off-ball linebacker corps thanks to the trade of Roquan Smith in the middle of the 2022 season. Nicholas Morrow moved to weakside after Smith’s departure, but is expected to become an unrestricted free agent. What did the bears do? They moved up to Edmunds, who signed the largest four-year contract of any quarterback, agreeing to pay a total of $72 million on an $18 million annual salary. dollars, of which 50 million dollars are guaranteed. Moreover, he is not even 25 years old. Edmunds has surpassed 100 tackles every year in the league since 2018 and has appeared in two Pro Bowls. He thinks he’s covering the weak side of Chicago’s 4-3 base system now. It has not yet been determined whether he or Edwards will call the defense.
A particularly good signing given the moves he made with Smith. Sure, they could have stuck with the former Georgia Bulldog who was drafted in the 2018 NFL Draft, but Smith was looking for a max contract. It was the Ravens who traded for him, giving Chicago and second- and fifth-round picks in return. They then signed Smith to a five-year, $100 million deal with $60 million guaranteed.
Edmunds didn’t come cheap, he’s younger than Smith and the Bears were able to get some extra capital. They had so much upside that they flipped on wide receiver Chase Claypool in the first second round before the trade deadline. While Claypool has yet to contribute significantly, he is the team’s third wide receiver in 2023.
That means general manager Ryan Poles got a young lineman of the same caliber as Smith, but was also able to provide a much-needed weapon and additional capital for Fields in the process.
Needless to say, weakside linebacker is one of the two most important positions in head coach Matt Eberflus’ Tampa-2 defense. The Bears still have a question mark at the tech three, but they’ve gone down the veteran/free agency route with the signing of Edmunds and/or Edwards (whichever position he’ll be between MIKE and WILL). to be determined).
Jalen Carter was considered one of the Bears’ 2023 draft targets, fitting the bill for an athletic defensive tackle and pass rusher, but Carter doesn’t appear to be an option due to the off-field issues that have arisen. likely. Chicago traded the first overall pick to Carolina last Friday and will now make the first pick of the 2023 NFL Draft at No. 9 overall.
The Bears make the No. 1 overall pick
Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharp, the Bears are in action when they trade the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft to the Panthers.
The Bears tackled the offensive side of the ball by stepping up their offensive line behind quarterback Justin Fields. The Poles focused on defending Fields, who had the best wide receiver in their trade since the No. 1 spot in DJ Moore. Davis is a standout run blocker who played a key role in Tennessee’s record-breaking touchdown run by Derrick Henry. Since being drafted in 2019, Davis has rushed for 1,540 yards in Henry Davis’ rookie season, 2,027 yards in 2020, 937 yards in eight games in 2021 and 1,538 yards despite struggling. offensive line last season.
Henry was the league’s MVP in Davis’ first two years.
Perhaps the move could prevent David Montgomery from hitting the open market and allow Chicago to keep its local tight end. Montgomery is expected to be a free agent, but has provided stability to the Bears’ offense. He and Khalil Herbert could round out a backfield that includes Fields’ role of further bolstering opposing defenses as he enters offensive coordinator Luke Gaetsy’s order system.
Between Friday’s first overall pick trade and Monday’s moves, the Bears will send their entire rebuild into overdrive. While still a multi-year process, the Bears could be looking at the playoffs next season. There’s never been such a consensus on Bears Twitter about how Chicago has positioned itself or how much fans trust the front office right now.
The players noticed it too.
Poles play chess, everyone else seems to play checkers.
Carmen Vitali covers the NFC North for FOX Sports. Carmen previously made stops with The Draft Network and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He spent six seasons with the Bucs, including 2020, when he added a Super Bowl title (and a parade participant) to his resume. You can follow Carmen on Twitter @CarmieV.
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