As expected, the Bears have been a steady presence during the legal tampering period’s opening hours. They will stay at it, bolstering their defensive line.
Chicago will add veteran interior D-lineman DeMarcus Walker, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. Walker has bounced around since his Broncos rookie contract expired, but he played well as a rotational pass rusher with the Titans last season. As a result, Garafolo adds the former second-round pick is expected to draw more than $7MM per year on a three-year agreement (Twitter link). It is a three-year, $21MM pact, Jeff Howe of The Athletic tweets.
Teaming with pass rushers Jeffery Simmons and Denico Autry, Walker enjoyed a career year in Nashville. He racked up seven sacks — three north of his previous career high — and 16 QB hits; the Florida State product had never previously tallied more than seven in a season. Walker could be on track to land a starting role next season, depending on how the rest of the Bears’ offseason goes. Chicago entered the week with holes across its defense.
This is Walker’s first multiyear deal since his rookie contract. The Broncos moved him around the formation during his first four seasons, though he has been predominantly used as an interior D-lineman. The Bears traded Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn last year, while also releasing Eddie Goldman and letting Akiem Hicks walk in free agency. As a result, their pass rush was thoroughly unproductive during the 3-14 campaign. Chicago finished with 20 sacks, and no one from its front seven topped the three-sack mark.
Walker joins Titans teammate Nate Davis as Windy City-bound. The four-year Tennessee guard starter signed a three-year deal with Chicago earlier Monday. As far as the D-line goes, the Bears have work to do. They also traded out of the top spot in the draft, and the team going to No. 9 will likely leave them outside the Will Anderson–Jalen Carter range. Walker, 28, will be expected to contribute, but the Bears — who entered Monday with the NFL’s most cap space — will need more help along their defensive front this offseason. Some of the top pieces — Javon Hargrave, Dre’Mont Jones, Zach Allen, Marcus Davenport — have already agreed to terms elsewhere.