The Chicago Bears signed former Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds to a four-year deal. The Bears entered the 2023 NFL free agency period with the most cap space across the league. Freshly off trading the No. 1 pick for a package of picks from Carolina and wide receiver DJ Moore, Chicago continued their roster overhaul by signing Tremaine Edmunds. Edmonds signed a four-year, $72 million deal with $50 million guaranteed, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
We’re breaking down what the massive contract means for the Bears as head coach Matt Eberflus looks to reshape their defense around the 24-year-old. Let’s dive in below.
Chicago Bears Land Tremaine Edmunds With $72 Million Deal
Edmunds received a “front-loaded” deal from Chicago as the team looked to maximize their advantage of having about $70 million to spend this offseason. At $18 million per year, the sixth-year middle linebacker becomes the fourth-highest-paid player at his position. After totaling at least 102 tackles in each of his five seasons in Buffalo, it’s well-earned.
Edmunds played in 13 games last year, finishing with 102 tackles, one sack, seven pass deflections, and one interception. He’s a massive 6’5”, 250-pounder who is known as an excellent athlete just hitting his stride.
Tremaine Edmunds Analysis: Bears Signings Give Them One of the Best Linebacker Duos in the NFL
The Bears are moving fast in free agency and are willing to use their cap space in order to improve the team dramatically. Signing the top linebacker on the market is particularly important because it allows a Bears team that was so deficient against the run to really build a solid middle-of-the-defense once they figure out their defensive tackle situation.
Edmunds is a size-speed wonder, and his Combine testing has borne out on the field for the Buffalo Bills, who have seen him grow from someone who had difficulty figuring out his assignments and executing run fits to one of the premier talents at the position.
This move allows Chicago to easily transition away from Roquan Smith — a high-level coverage player that struggled more each year in defending the pass. Edmunds has done the opposite and has grown as a coverage defender, meaning the Bears can lock down their struggling intermediate pass defense and really let the safety tandem of Jaquan Brisker and Eddie Jackson shine.
The fact that they’re pairing Edmunds with T.J. Edwards is even more impressive. Edwards was also a big riser from his performance this year with the Eagles. The two complement each other well.
As a high-level run defender who sometimes struggles with sideline-to-sideline range and covering players deep downfield, Edwards needs an athletic cover linebacker to supplement what he’s good at. This limits the matchup opportunities offenses will have against the Bears as it gives them more tools in their toolbox to deal with all kinds of different offenses.
The Bears ranked 32nd in EPA per play on defense last year, split between a 32nd-overall ranking in coverage EPA per play and 28th-overall ranking in run defense EPA per play. With Edmunds and Edwards, they can substantially improve their ranking in both categories and field one of the best linebacker duos in the league.