Chicago Bears’ aggressive begin to free company has one frequent thread — younger gamers coming into their prime years – Chicago Tribune

Ryan Poles wished to pay Roquan Smith final summer time — he simply didn’t need to get to the $20 million annual wage the linebacker desired. So the Chicago Bears opened 2023 free company by dropping much more cash within the place.

The Bears agreed to phrases with 4 gamers Monday after the two-day negotiating window opened main into the official begin of free company at 3 p.m. Wednesday. The headliner is Tremaine Edmunds, whom the Buffalo Bills drafted with the sixteenth decide in 2018 — eight slots after the Bears picked Smith.

Edmunds figures to be the weak-side linebacker alongside new center linebacker T.J. Edwards, who additionally agreed to phrases. That makes Jack Sanborn a probable candidate to play on the sturdy facet. The Bears additionally agreed to phrases with guard Nate Davis, the primary piece in a makeover of the offensive line, and defensive finish DeMarcus Walker.

Poles has talked about being calculated in free company, and the primary three additions have at the very least one important trait in frequent: All seem like coming into the prime years of their profession. That’s crucial for a group just like the Bears that isn’t one or two items away from severe competition.

Edmunds, a former Virginia Tech star who progressed over the past 5 seasons with the Bills, was the youngest participant in his draft class, chosen per week earlier than his twentieth birthday. He turns 25 in May.

Edwards, a Lake Villa native and Wisconsin alumnus who led the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles in tackles final season, turns 27 in August. Davis doesn’t flip 27 till September, so the Bears can stay youthful even with a heavy push in free company.

Eagles linebacker T.J. Edwards (57) celebrates after tackling Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes during the Super Bowl on Feb. 12, 2023, in Glendale, Ariz.

The Bears are betting on Edmunds’ expertise being unlocked in coach Matt Eberflus’ scheme, which explains the four-year, $72 million contract with $41.8 million totally assured. The $18 million annual common isn’t far off what Smith sought and finally obtained from the Baltimore Ravens after he was traded at midseason.

Edwards’ three-year contract is for $19.5 million, so the Bears have two linebackers at $24.5 million yearly and a second-round decide from the Ravens as a substitute of Smith at $20 million per yr.

As typically as Eberflus references the importance of gamers’ size, Edmunds is right. He’s 6-foot-5, 250 kilos and ran the 40-yard sprint in 4.54 seconds on the scouting mix.

“Incredible range for a big man,” a veteran scout stated. “He can swallow up targets in zone coverage because of his size. Instant-impact ability and he’s played in a zone-heavy scheme. Bigger, faster than anything they had in Chicago.”

Edwards went from an undrafted rookie in Philadelphia to a rock in the course of one of many league’s greatest defenses. He’s particularly sturdy versus the run and had some on-ball manufacturing with seven passes damaged up final season, so the Bears now have a pair of confirmed, sturdy gamers for the second degree.

Titans offensive lineman Nate Davis lines up for a snap against the Texans on Oct. 30, 2022, in Houston.

Davis began 54 video games over the past 4 seasons for the Tennessee Titans and has a powerful drop and anchor, which makes him sturdy in go safety. As a lot success because the Titans had operating the ball, he seems to be to be an all-around match, and as an athletic mover, he might mission to play left guard.

If so, Cody Whitehair’s future could possibly be up within the air. The Bears might save $9.9 million in opposition to the wage cap by designating Whitehair as a post-June 1 reduce.

Unanswered is what the Bears will do on the defensive position to maintain offensive linemen off their linebackers. Eagles defensive sort out Javon Hargrave agreed to a four-year, $84 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers; Dre’Mont Jones of the Denver Broncos agreed to a three-year, $51.5 million take care of the Seattle Seahawks; and Zach Allen of the Arizona Cardinals changed Jones in Denver for $45.75 million over three years. All three have been potential three-techniques for Eberflus’ protection and now they’re off the board.

It’s attainable the Bears will pivot and signal an easier-to-find nostril sort out and make a penetrating, disruptive defensive sort out a precedence within the draft. They made a small begin to enhancing their meager go rush by including Walker on a three-year, $21 million contract with $16 million assured. The 28-year-old had a career-high seven sacks and 16 QB hits whereas enjoying 37% of the snaps for the Titans final season.

Walker, a second-round decide by the Broncos in 2017, is becoming a member of his fourth group. He had 12½ sacks and 23 QB hits by his first 5 seasons. There wasn’t a lot edge-rushing expertise available on the market, and this stays a difficulty the Bears have to determine.

Multiple sources stated the Bears have been concerned in talks with 49ers proper sort out Mike McGlinchey earlier than he secured a five-year, $87.5 million contract from the Broncos. One supply stated the Bears supply to McGlinchey obtained to about $17 million per yr.

Jawaan Taylor of the Jacksonville Jaguars, the opposite premium offensive sort out available on the market, landed a four-year, $80 million settlement with the Kansas City Chiefs.

So the Bears have urgent wants on the defensive position and extra work to do on the offensive line, however getting broad receiver D.J. Moore in Friday’s commerce of the No. 1 draft decide to the Carolina Panthers added a veteran at a place of want, and the group has 4 of the highest 64 picks beginning with No. 9.

“They got young players and that’s always key in free agency unless you’re hunting that one veteran you need to fill the one hole you have,” a personnel director stated. “But if you’re going to sign Edmunds, why sign Edwards? Why dump that amount of money into your linebackers when you don’t have any players up front?

“When your roster is talent deficient, your hands can be forced in free agency. They had to be aggressive and they were. Ultimately, they’ve got some guys that should help them compete.”

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