Bears To Sign LB T.J. Edwards

The Bears have struck first in the tampering period of free agency. They are set to sign linebacker T.J. Edwards to a three-year deal, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (on Twitter).

Rapoport adds that the pact is worth $19.5MM, and includes $12MM guaranteed (Twitter link). Doug Kyed of A to Z Sports tweets that Edwards will receive a $4.5MM signing bonus, and have nearly all of his compensation for the first two years guaranteed. That represents a sizable investment in the team’s linebacking corps, but Chicago has the spending power to make a number of other additions in the coming days. This will surely not be the last deal aimed at boosting the Bears’ front seven.

The 26-year-old was one of the headliners in this year’s free agent LB class, arguably representing the top option aside from Tremaine Edmunds. Especially since the latter has reportedly agreed to a massive deal of his own, the Edwards addition demonstrates how committed GM Ryan Poles has been to upgrading at the position and how willing he is to spend at one which is generally undervalued.

Chicago had Roquan Smith at the heart of their linebacking corps heading into the 2022 season, but his trade request cast doubt on the team’s ability to retain him beyond his contract year. They dealt him to the Ravens at the trade deadline, clearing up the money needed to pursue Edwards and Edmunds, but also creating a major need on defense to properly execute head coach Matt Eberflus‘ scheme. These additions will go a long way to filling that gap.

Edwards took on a more significant role in the Eagles’ defense with each successive year of his career. He topped 1,000 snaps in 2022, starting all 17 games in the regular season. He comfortably set a new career-high in tackles with 159, adding a pair of sacks and seven pass breakups. His age gave him higher upside that a number of older, more accomplished ‘backers, so it comes as little surprise that he was an immediate target of the Bears.

Chicago entered the free agency frenzy with the most cap space in the league, giving them the ability to make numerous splashes on the open market. The additions of Edwards, Edmunds, offensive lineman Nate Davis, not to mention the acquisition of wideout D.J. Moore as part of last week’s blockbuster trade, should set the Bears up for a significant step forward in 2023.

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