After being acquired by the Bears at the trade deadline, Montez Sweat will be sticking around Chicago. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the edge rusher has agreed to a four-year extension worth $98MM in new money. Including this season, the deal is worth a total of $105MM.
The contract includes close to $73MM in guaranteed money, according to Rapoport. With a $24.5MM average annual value, Sweat should now rank fifth among pass rushers in yearly money.
That’s certainly a lot of money for a player with zero Pro Bowl appearances, zero All-Pro nods, and zero 10-sack seasons on his resume. However, Sweat should be on his way to accomplishing most (if not all) of those feats this season. In his eight starts with the Commanders, the 27-year-old collected 6.5 sacks to go along with 32 tackles, 11 QB hits, and a pair of forced fumbles.
Pro Football Focus has Sweat ranked 28th among 107 qualifying edge rushers, although the site gives him a top-three grade at the position for his run defense. Further, the site ranked him as a top-10 edge rusher in 2022, with Sweat finishing that campaign with 8.5 sacks, 28 QB hits, and 14 tackles for loss. The former first-round pick is just finishing his rookie contract, and while he doesn’t have the track record of some of the league’s other top-paid pass rushers, the Bears are clearly banking on his upside.
The Bears sent a second-round pick to Washington for the edge rusher at the trade deadline. The front office certainly raised some eyebrows with the move; the second-round pick should come early considering Chicago’s 2-6 record, and Sweat was set to hit free agency following the 2023 campaign. The Bears made is abundantly clear that they intended to re-sign the impending free agent, although Sweat was noncommittal after joining the team.
“I think all that goes into play from financial to the people around me to the players in the building, all that type of stuff like that,” Sweat said earlier this week. “I just got here. I’m still trying to figure out where I’m going to lay my head at tonight.”
Chicago ultimately didn’t take long to get the deal done. The trade and extension isn’t unlike last year when the Dolphins traded for Bradley Chubb hours before the trade deadline. Two days later, they finished out extension talks.
Of course, considering the draft capital they gave up, the Bears were prepared to use the franchise tag on Sweat if the two sides couldn’t agree to a new deal. As ESPN’s Adam Schefter notes, the Bears can now use that tag on someone like cornerback Jaylon Johnson, who wasn’t dealt at the deadline despite a public trade request.
Chicago, which traded Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn last year, has rolled out one of the worst pass-rushing units in the NFL over the past two campaigns. They’ll now be counting on Sweat to be guiding that grouping for the foreseeable future.