Eddie Jackson

Bears Cut Cody Whitehair, Eddie Jackson

Cody Whitehair has been in Chicago since 2016, but his time with the Bears will come to an end this offseason. The veteran offensive lineman has been released, as first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The team has since announced the move. Safety Eddie Jackson has also been let go.

One year remained on Whitehair’s deal, but none of his $10.15MM salary was guaranteed. As a result, this move will yield $9.15MM in cap savings and a dead cap charge of $4.1MM. Today’s news come as little surprise, but it will give the 31-year-old a head start on free agency.

After arriving in Chicago in 2016, Whitehair saw immediate playing time at center. He remained at that position for much of his first three seasons with the team, starting every game and earning a Pro Bowl nod in 2018. Things began to change after that point, though, as the former second-rounder started splitting his time between center and left guard. He operated as the full-time LG in 2021 and ’22, and that was his primary spot this past season.

Whitehair’s PFF evaluations have seen a decline in recent years, and his 45 mark represents a career low. He was charged with three sacks and 22 pressures allowed in pass protection, and the Bears will now move forward with other options along the interior of their O-line. Chicago made a sizable free agent investment in Nate Davis last offseason, and after being drafted as a tackle, Teven Jenkins has shown promise at both guard spots. They, along with 2023 first-rounder Darnell Wright, will be key pieces up front for Chicago moving forward.

Jackson, too, had one year remaining on his current contract but faced the possibility of being let go. He recently indicated a cut would be coming, and the news is now official on that front. Jackson started each of his 100 games with Chicago, but injuries and declining production weighed heavily as factors working against him being retained for 2024 and beyond.

The 30-year-old was due over $14MM next season, but his release will save roughly $12.5MM in cap space. Given the financial benefits, Jackson’s release also comes as little surprise. The Bears were already slated to be in a better situation with respect to cap space than many teams, but these moves will add to their flexibility. Whitehair and Jackson will collectively account for just under $9.7MM in dead money in 2024.

Jaquan Brisker has established himself as a key contributor at the safety position in the present and the future for Chicago, but the other starting spot will need filling this offseason. The Bears have a number of relatively inexperienced incumbent options to choose from, along with the free agent and draft avenues to pursue a Jackson replacement. The two-time Pro Bowler last played a full season in 2020, and he has recorded one or fewer interceptions in three of the past four years.

Still, he and Whitehair will be able to sign with an interested team at any time (as opposed to having to wait for the start of the new league year in mid-March). It will be interesting to see how much of a market they will manage to generate, though deals worth much less than what they were originally due should be expected. Chicago will move forward with roughly $67MM in cap space, the third-highest total in the league as cost-cutting season picks up.

Bears Likely To Release S Eddie Jackson?

During the 2023 season, the future of Bears safety Eddie Jackson was unclear. A potential trade chip, he was not dealt at the trade deadline. It would come as a surprise if he were in Chicago for the 2024 campaign, however.

Jackson recently appeared to bid farewell to the city in an Instagram post, The 30-year-old has spent his entire career with the Bears, but injuries and finances have become a complicating factor in his situation. Jackson last played a full campaign in 2020, and he has recorded more than one interception in a season only once during that span.

The two-time Pro Bowler is due $14.15MM in 2024, the final season of his current contract. No guaranteed salary exists on his pact, however, so the Bears could move on with little financial implications. A release before June 1 would yield $12.56MM in savings with a dead cap charge of $5.58MM. Designating him a post-June 1 cut would alter those figures to $14.15MM and $3.99MM, respectively. Jackson’s brief message implies he will be let go in the near future, a move which would come as little surprise given the financial benefits of doing so.

Jackson’s resurgent 2022 performance – in which he recorded four interceptions and a pair of forced fumbles – drew a PFF grade of 76.2, the second-highest mark of his career. His rating this year (58.6) was in line with his others in recent seasons, though, due in part to poor coverage grades. The Alabama product allowed three touchdowns and a passer rating of 120.6 in coverage in 2023, something which would hurt his value in the event he reached free agency.

Jackson was mentioned as a name to watch on the trade front in advance of the trade deadline. Taking on the 2024 portion of his contract would have been burdensome for an acquiring team, though, and he finished out the year with Chicago. The former fourth-rounder logged a 100% snap share in each game he was healthy for, proving his ability to log a starter’s workload with the Bears or a new team moving forward.

Chicago has 2022 second-rounder Jaquan Brisker in place as a safety starter, and he will be counted on as a key defender for the foreseeable future. The Bears have a number of other inexpensive options at the position, including Elijah Hicks, Jaylon Jones, Quindell Johnson, Douglas Coleman and Adrian Colbert. Jackson, a veteran of 100 starts, could offer at least experienced depth on the backend of an interested team, although a free agent agreement would likely come at a much lower cost than what he is currently due.

Bears Unlikely To Be Active At Deadline?

Firmly in the middle of a rebuild, it would come as no surprise if the Bears elected to move on from one or more notable players in the coming days. Despite having a few options in that regard, though, it appears unlikely that will be the case.

Citing the views of an AFC scout, Adam Jahns of The Athletic details that a major move in the coming days should not be expected (subscription required). Last year, Chicago agreed to send All-Pro linebacker Roquan Smith to the Ravens for a package including a second-round pick. A sizeable move of similar impact would likely only happen if the likes of cornerback Jaylon Johnson, safety Eddie Jackson or wideout Darnell Mooney were to be dealt.

That trio represents the Bears players most likely to garner attention, per Jahns. They would, of course, come at varying prices in a swap given their different age and contract statuses. Johnson’s future in the Windy City has been called into question on a number of occasions, but the 24-year-old said earlier this week that talks on an extension could heat up soon. General manager Ryan Poles has expressed a desire to keep Johnson in place beyond 2023, so a trade coming to fruition in the coming days would come as a surprise.

Jackson has a longer track record of success, but his age, along with injury- and finance-related factors would complicate a trade. The two-time Pro Bowler has been limited to just three games this season, and he last played a full campaign in 2020. Jackson is also due a non-guaranteed salary of $14.5MM in 2024, his age-30 season. He is scheduled to carry a cap hit of $18.1MM, so any acquiring team would either need to work out an extension to make his contract easier to work with in future years or make him a cap casualty after the season.

Mooney, like Johnson, is due for a second contract this offseason. The 2020 fifth-rounder appeared to cement his status as a long-term piece with a 1,000-yard campaign in his second season, but things have taken a turn since then. Mooney put up career lows in receptions, yards and touchdowns last season as the Bears struggled to find production in the passing game. That led to the acquisition of D.J. Moore, something which has in part resulted in a drop in Mooney’s playing time. The latter’s snap share sits at 70%, and he has made just 14 catches through seven games.

With over $9MM in cap space and seven 2024 draft picks at the moment, the Bears have plenty of flexibility with respect to the upcoming trade deadline. Their ability to receive more signficant draft capital in trades for Johnson and/or Mooney than the compensatory picks they would be due in the event they departed in free agency will likely factor heavily into their handling of those players. Overall, as Jahns notes, a busy few days from Poles and Co. would come as a surprise.

Largest 2023 Cap Hits: Defense

While the NFL’s top 2023 cap hits go to players on offense, a number of pass rushers are tied to lofty figures as well. None check in higher than Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams.

Williams and Chiefs D-tackle Chris Jones carry high contract-year cap hits, while the Steelers’ two front-seven cornerstones each are set to go into training camp with cap figures north of $20MM. As the salary cap climbed to $224.8MM this year, here are the top defensive cap figures as camps near:

  1. Leonard Williams, DL (Giants): $32.26MM
  2. T.J. Watt, OLB (Steelers): $29.37MM
  3. Myles Garrett, DE (Browns): $29.18MM
  4. Chris Jones, DT (Chiefs): $28.29MM
  5. Aaron Donald, DL (Rams): $26MM
  6. Arik Armstead, DT (49ers): $23.95MM
  7. Cameron Heyward, DL (Steelers): $22.26MM
  8. C.J. Mosley, LB (Jets): $21.48MM
  9. Jonathan Allen, DT (Commanders): $21.44MM
  10. Shaquil Barrett, OLB (Buccaneers): $21.25MM
  11. Grady Jarrett, DT (Falcons): $20.63MM
  12. Marlon Humphrey, CB (Ravens): $19.99MM
  13. Shaquille Leonard, LB (Colts): $19.79MM
  14. Kevin Byard, S (Titans): $19.62MM
  15. Adoree’ Jackson, CB (Giants): $19.08MM
  16. Harold Landry, OLB (Titans): $18.8MM
  17. Justin Simmons, S (Broncos): $18.15MM
  18. Jamal Adams, S (Seahawks): $18.11MM
  19. Matt Judon, DE (Patriots): $18.107MM
  20. Quandre Diggs, S (Seahawks): $18.1MM
  21. Nick Bosa, DE (49ers): $17.9MM
  22. DeForest Buckner, DT (Colts): $17.25MM
  23. Emmanuel Ogbah, DE (Dolphins): $17.19MM
  24. DeMarcus Lawrence, DE (Cowboys): $17.11MM
  25. Eddie Jackson, S (Bears): $17.1MM

The Chiefs are working toward a second extension agreement with Jones, who is in the final season of a four-year, $80MM contract. A new deal with the star inside pass rusher would free up cap space, and DeAndre Hopkins is believed to be monitoring this situation.

As for Williams, the Giants had wanted to adjust his deal to reduce his eye-opening cap number. As of mid-June, however, no extension appeared to be on the team’s radar. The previous Giants regime signed off on the 2021 Williams extension (three years, $63MM). The Giants are also uninterested — for the time being, at least — in extending Jackson, who was also a Dave Gettleman-era defensive addition.

Donald is in the second season of a three-year, $95MM deal. The Rams gave Donald a landmark raise last year, convincing the all-everything D-tackle to squash retirement talk. A no-trade clause exists in Donald’s contract, which pays out its guarantees this year. Mosley remains tied to the $17MM-per-year deal the Mike Maccagnan regime authorized with the Jets. That contract, which reset the off-ball linebacker market in 2019, still has two seasons remaining on it due to the deal tolling after Mosley’s 2020 COVID-19 opt-out call. The Jets restructured the deal last year.

Washington now has two D-tackles tied to deals of at least $18MM per year. While Daron Payne‘s pact is worth more ($22.5MM AAV), higher cap hits on that deal will come down the road. Three years remain on Allen’s 2021 agreement. At safety, no team is spending like the Seahawks. In addition to the big-ticket deals authorized for Adams and Diggs, Seattle gave ex-Giants starter Julian Love a two-year, $6MM accord in March.

New Titans GM Ran Carthon attempted to give Byard a pay cut. That request did not go over well, but the standout safety remains with the team and has not requested a trade. Tennessee re-signed Landry on a five-year, $87.5MM deal in 2022; the veteran edge rusher has yet to play on that deal due to the ACL tear he sustained just before last season.

The 49ers can bring Bosa’s number down via an extension, which has long been on the team’s docket. As San Francisco extended Deebo Samuel just after training camp began last year, Bosa received back-burner treatment due to the fifth-year option. The star defensive end’s price undoubtedly went up during the waiting period, with the former No. 2 overall pick earning Defensive Player of the Year acclaim in the fourth year of his rookie contract.

Bears Place S Eddie Jackson, WR Darnell Mooney On IR

Having already traded away two accomplished veterans on defense before the deadline, the Bears will go the rest of the way without their other defensive Pro Bowler.

The foot injury Eddie Jackson suffered against the Jets in Week 12 led the team to move him to IR, and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets the veteran safety is expected to miss the rest of the season. It is a Lisfranc injury, according to Rapoport and NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo (on Twitter). The Bears also moved Darnell Mooney to IR. The third-year wide receiver had already been ruled out for the season’s remainder.

A fourth-round pick in 2017, Jackson is the longest-tenured Bears defensive starter. After the trade of Roquan Smith, he holds that distinction by a considerable margin. Jackson, whom the Bears extended immediately once be became eligible for a deal in January 2020, has lined up as a starter in all 88 games he has played — dating back to Week 1 of his rookie year. This will be the former Pro Bowler’s longest absence as a pro.

After giving Jackson his worst grade as a pro in 2021, Pro Football Focus viewed this as a bounce-back season. Jackson’s four interceptions lead the Bears — he is the only defender still with the team to have picked off more than one pass this season — and represent his highest INT total since his 2018 All-Pro campaign. Jackson has also forced two fumbles and registered 80 tackles.

The Bears already faced the Jets shorthanded in the secondary, with rookie starters Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon missing what turned out to be another Mike White showcase event. Chicago, which traded Robert Quinn days before unloading Smith, has allowed at least 27 points in each of its past five games. Jackson’s absence will certainly make matters more difficult for a team barreling toward a top-five draft choice in 2023. The Bears have not picked in the top five since trading up for Mitch Trubisky in 2017.

Jackson’s four-year, $58.6MM extension calls for a nonguaranteed $13MM base salary in 2023. While the Bears stripped away every other piece from their Vic Fangio– and Chuck Pagano-era defenses this year, Adam Jahns of The Athletic notes all signs point to Jackson sticking around next season (subscription required). Jackson will turn 29 next week.

Bears WR Darnell Mooney Out For Season

NOVEMBER 28: Head coach Matt Eberflus confirmed yesterday’s suspicions when speaking to the media, stating that Mooney’s season is indeed over. He will be placed on IR and is “likely” to have surgery on his ankle, Eberflus added.

NOVEMBER 27: The Bears were without their leading receiver by the end of today’s game, which could very well be his last appearance in 2022. Chicago fears Darnell Mooney suffered a season-ending ankle injury, as noted by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (Twitter link).

During the third quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Jets, Mooney exited the contest and did not return. Pelissero notes that further testing will be done tomorrow to gather more information, but the worst-case scenario appears to be in play at this point. The loss of Mooney could be crippling given his importance to the Bears’ offense, and the team’s limited passing game.

Mooney entered the league with little fanfare as a fifth-round pick, but he showed considerable promise as a rookie in 2020 with 631 yards and three touchdowns. He took a sizeable step forward last year, notching 81 receptions, 1,055 yards and four scores. The free agent departure of Allen Robinson left the Tulane product as Chicago’s undisputed No. 1 pass-catcher, and he operated as such with a team-leading 493 yards while the Bears remained committed to a ground-heavy offense.

Assuming the 25-year-old is sidelined for the rest of the season, Chicago will likely turn even more to a committee approach in the passing game. Tight end Cole Kmet and running back David Montgomery rank second and third, respectively, in receiving yards this season. On the perimeter, N’Keal Harry – whom the Patriots traded to the Bears this summer – and Chase Claypool – acquired from the Steelers at the trade deadline – could take on larger roles moving forward, with the likes of Equanimeous St. Brown, Byron Pringle and rookie Velus Jones Jr. also being involved.

In other injury news, the Bears saw safety Eddie Jackson carted off the field today. He suffered a non-contact foot injury, one which likewise threatens to leave the rebuilding team without a key contributor for an extended time period. Especially if the Bears continue to operate without emerging quarterback Justin Fields, the remainder of the 2022 season will be one marked by injuries hampering any attempts at an offensive turnaround in particular.

Largest 2022 Cap Hits: Defense

After looking at this year’s top salary cap numbers on the offensive side of the ball, here is a rundown of the players counting the most toward their teams’ payrolls in 2022.

As could be expected, the salary figures here start below the quarterbacks. A few pass rushers, however, are tied to notable cap hits. Those numbers that check in within the top 20 leaguewide regardless of position. With the exception of true nose tackles and pure slot cornerbacks, every defensive position is represented here.

Here are the top cap figures on the defensive side for the ’22 season:

  1. T.J. Watt, OLB (Steelers): $31.12MM
  2. Chris Jones, DT (Chiefs): $29.42MM
  3. Joey Bosa, OLB (Chargers): $28.25MM
  4. Leonard Williams, DL (Giants): $27.3MM
  5. Aaron Donald, DT (Rams): $27MM
  6. Jalen Ramsey, CB (Rams): $23.2MM
  7. Deion Jones, LB (Falcons): $20.1MM
  8. Bud Dupree, OLB (Titans): $19.2MM
  9. Justin Simmons, S (Broncos): $18.85MM
  10. Javon Hargrave, DT (Eagles): $17.8MM
  11. C.J. Mosley, LB (Jets): $17.5MM
  12. Cameron Heyward, DL (Steelers): $17.42MM
  13. Robert Quinn, DE (Bears): $17.14MM
  14. Matt Judon, OLB (Patriots): $16.5MM
  15. DeForest Buckner, DT (Colts): $16MM
  16. Shaquill Griffin, CB (Jaguars): $16.44MM
  17. Tre’Davious White, CB (Bills): $16.4MM
  18. J.J. Watt, DL (Cardinals): $15.9MM
  19. Marcus Peters, CB (Ravens): $15.5MM
  20. Carl Lawson, DE (Jets): $15.33MM
  21. Eddie Jackson, S (Bears): $15.1MM
  22. Lavonte David, LB (Buccaneers): $14.79MM
  23. Budda Baker, S (Cardinals): $14.78MM
  24. Romeo Okwara, DE (Lions): $14.5MM
  25. Trey Hendrickson, DE (Bengals): $14.49MM
  • Illustrating how much the cap has climbed over the past several seasons, T.J. Watt is tied to a number nearly twice that of J.J. Watt, who has been tied to $16.7MM-per-year (a defender-record number in 2014) and $14MM-AAV deals as a pro. Trailing his older brother in Defensive Player of the Year honors, T.J. is signed to an edge defender-record $28MM-per-year accord.
  • Jones’ four-year Chiefs deal vaults from an $8.5MM cap number in 2021 to the league’s second-highest defensive figure this year. The standout defensive tackle’s cap hit accompanies Patrick Mahomes‘ $35.79MM number, which is well north of his 2021 figure, on Kansas City’s new-look payroll.
  • After two franchise tags, Williams scored a monster extension in 2021. The well-paid Giants D-lineman’s cap number this year is way up from his 2021 number ($9.4MM).
  • The Rams redid Donald’s contract last month, adding no new years to the through-2024 pact. The all-world defender’s cap hit actually decreases in 2023, dropping to $26MM
  • It is not certain Deion Jones will be back with the Falcons, who have jettisoned other Super Bowl LI cornerstones from the roster since the current regime took over in 2021. But they would save just $1MM were they to release the seventh-year linebacker.
  • To date, this represents the high-water mark for Mosley cap hits on his Jets deal, which at the time (2019) began a sea change for off-ball linebacker contracts. Mosley’s cap hit, on a pact that runs through 2024 because of the linebacker opting out of the 2020 season, increased by $10MM from 2021-22.
  • Hargrave is one of five Eagles pass rushers signed to veteran contracts. The ex-Steeler’s 2021 deal accompanies Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, Haason Reddick, and Fletcher Cox‘s new agreement on Philadelphia’s defensive front. As cap hits do not reflect average salaries, Hargrave is the only member of this quartet tied to an eight-figure cap number in 2022.
  • Quinn has also been connected to a departure, with the 31-year-old pass rusher skipping minicamp after it became known he would like to be traded away from the rebuilding team. His cap hit tops the Bears’ payroll. The Bears would save $12.9MM by trading Quinn, should another team sign up for taking on his full 2022 base salary.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/10/21

Here are Tuesday’s minor moves, with the list being updated throughout the day:

Arizona Cardinals

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

  • Waived: FB Mikey Daniel

Chicago Bears

Houston Texans

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Released from IR via injury settlement: G Anthony Coyle

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Bears Restructure Khalil Mack, Eddie Jackson, Cody Whitehair Contracts

Residing over the cap entering the weekend, the Bears made a few moves to create more than $20MM in cap space and inch under the $182.5MM salary ceiling.

Chicago will restructure the contracts of Khalil Mack, Eddie Jackson and Cody Whitehair, according to Adam Schefter, who adds these moves will create more than $23MM in cap space (Twitter link). The Bears previously had the NFL’s second-worst cap situation, residing nearly $20MM over the cap.

The Bears previously restructured Mack’s deal in 2019. He was due to count more than $26MM against Chicago’s 2021 cap. This marks the first restructure of Jackson’s five-year, $58.4MM deal. Ditto for Whitehair’s five-year, $51.3MM pact. The two combined to count just more than $20MM against Chicago’s cap this year.

The team still has work to do in the cap-space department, and the reshufflings will certainly be connected to a potential quarterback salary. In dire need at quarterback, the Bears are planning to pursue a Russell Wilson trade. Were the Bears to pull off a miraculous deal, they would need to account for by far the biggest contract in franchise history. Wilson’s $35MM-per-year accord runs through 2023.

Bears Notes: Desai, Robinson, Massie, Skrine

Earlier this week, Sean Desai met with the media for the first time since being promoted to the role of defensive coordinator. While the 37-year-old will take over a defense that has ranked as a top-10 DVOA unit in each of the past three seasons, they’ve also seen some regression since peaking in 2018. However, Desai doesn’t believe the defensive needs a significant overhaul.

“I’m not a big car guy, so my analogies may not be great, but this is like a tune up,” Desai said (via the team’s website). “We’re going to refine some things and we’re going to make sure our players are playing to their strengths on a consistent basis and they’re going to buy into the system and the whys and the hows of why we’re doing certain things. But we’ve got a good defense. We’ve got really good players here.”

“There was some regression, and we’re going to overcome that,” Desai added. “But we’re going to do it in a positive way and we’re going to do it where the players are going to be able to shine through that defense. So I think we’ll build some depth and we’ll continue with our tough, physical mindset of play and do that over a 16- to 20-week season.”

Some more notes out of Chicago…

  • CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora writes that the Bears are “prepared” to tag wideout Allen Robinson with the hope of eventually signing him to a long-term deal. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune writes that it will be difficult to fit a franchised Robinson into a reduced 2021 cap, but the writer also admits that replacing Robinson would be a more daunting task.
  • Speaking of the cap, Biggs provided some cost-cutting options for the Bears. The team could move on from right tackle Bobby Massie, although that would open a spot on the offensive line. Cornerback Buster Skrine could also lose his roster spot, especially since he has a $500K roster bonus due in March. Finally, Biggs also whether the front office will be receptive to paying tight end Jimmy Graham $7MM this season.
  • As for restructured contracts, Biggs points to pass rusher Khalil Mack and safety Eddie Jackson, and he notes that the team could also extend cornerback Kyle Fuller. Alternatively, the team could look to retain free agents like Cairo Santos and Cordarrelle Patterson on low-money pacts.
  • Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic passed along a few Bears players who have increased their 2021 salaries via proven performance escalators (Twitter links): defensive end Bilal Nichols (from $920K to $2.183MM) and guard James Daniels ($1.437MM to $2.183MM),. Their new salaries are contingent on the final 2021 cap number.