Not long after using their top waiver position to pick up Bravvion Roy, the Bears capitalized on their waiver priority to add another recently cut NFC South defender. Mykal Walker will head from Atlanta to Chicago.
The Falcons waived the contract-year linebacker Sunday, marking an interesting shift after Walker started 12 games for the team last season and 20 overall during his career. The Bears are now responsible for Walker’s contract year, though that checks in at just $895K.
Atlanta has made some changes on defense this offseason, hiring Ryan Nielsen to take over for the re-retired Dean Pees as defensive coordinator. The Falcons have overhauled their linebacking corps from the Thomas Dimitroff era. A Dimitroff-era draftee, Walker joins Foye Oluokun, De’Vondre Campbell, Deion Jones and Rashaan Evans as linebacker regulars to leave Atlanta in recent years. Walker, 26 later this month, will now attempt to crack a Bears 53-man roster, one that will feature major changes at the position.
The Bears authorized this year’s top free agent linebacker contract, giving Tremaine Edmunds $18MM per year (fourth among off-ball linebackers) and $43MM fully guaranteed (third at the position). They also added T.J. Edwards on a $6.5MM-per-year accord. The Bears let Nicholas Morrow walk in free agency but still have part-time 2022 starter Jack Sanborn under contract. Sanborn suffered a season-ending ankle injury in December. The team is ailing a bit at the position, with ESPN.com’s Courtney Cronin noting (via Twitter) Edmunds and UFA pickup Dylan Cole were not available Monday.
A Fresno State alum, Walker finished with career-high 107 tackles (four for loss) and two interceptions last season. Pro Football Focus assigned a mid-pack grade to Walker’s 2022 campaign, placing him 55th overall among off-ball ‘backers. Walker also notched a 66-yard pick-six in 2021. The Bears waived linebacker Kuony Deng to clear a roster spot for Walker.