In his second offseason with the Chicago Bears, general manager Ryan Poles has plenty of salary cap room to rebuild a roster that ended 3-14 in 2022.
As the new NFL league year approaches, allowing free agents to begin signing new teams, the Tribune will track all Bears arrivals and departures and provide insight into what they mean.
The free agency trading window will open league-wide at 11:00 am on Monday. Unrestricted free agents can finalize deals when the league’s new year begins at 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Bears are signing former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker TJ Edwards according to several reports.
What it means: Edwards, who attended Lakes High School in Lake Villa and Wisconsin, returns home to the Chicago area. An undrafted rookie in 2019, Edwards started 47 games and played in 61 for the Eagles over four seasons. He had a career-high 159 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, seven passes defensed, five quarterback hits, and two sacks in 2022.
NFL Network reported that the Bears signed Edwards to a three-year deal. After trading linebacker Roquan Smith mid-season in 2022, the Bears badly needed a playmaker for the position. They also return linebacker Jack Sanborn, who also played for Wisconsin. Edwards played middle linebacker in Philadelphia, but it remains to be seen if the Bears will play him there or in Will’s position.
Cornerback Josh Blackwell and defensive lineman Andrew Brown are returning, the Bears announced.
What it means: The Bears offered one-year contracts to Blackwell and Brown, who were exclusive free agents.
Blackwell, an undrafted rookie from Duke, was a key special teams player in 2022. He had 23 tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He saw time on defense in four games late in the season as injuries depleted the Bears’ secondary.
Brown joined the Bears in November off the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad and played in five games. He has appeared in 28 games over the last four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans, Los Angeles Chargers and Bears.
Long snapper Patrick Scales is returning to the Bears, his agent tweeted.
What it means: Scales, 35, has been with the Bears since 2015 and hasn’t missed a game in the past five seasons. He returns with a specialist team that includes kicker Cairo Santos and punter Trenton Gill.
Scales is the oldest Bears player on a roster the Poles have all but abandoned.
The Bears are bringing back veteran fullback Khari Blasingame on a two-year extension, according to his agency.
What it means: Blasingame joined the Bears on a one-year deal last season. And although he hasn’t received an offensive touch, he remains well regarded within Halas Hall for his intelligence, work ethic and tenacity.
As a blocker, Blasingame contributed to a Bears offense that averaged a league-best 177.3 rushing yards per game, setting a single-season franchise record with 3,014 rushing yards. It will be interesting to see how his role evolves or expands in 2023, as coordinator Luke Getsy continues to shape the scheme around the players he has.
The Bears have significant work to do to stabilize their offense and must work on their backfield plans with David Montgomery in line to hit the open market next week. But Blasingame’s return was a priority. The veteran quarterback spent his first three seasons at Tennessee and will look to play a bigger role with the Bears this season.
The Bears are releasing defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, ESPN reported.
What it means: Muhammad signed a two-year, $8 million deal last spring to join head coach Matt Eberflus in Chicago. Muhammad, who is entering his seventh NFL season, was coming off a career year with the Indianapolis Colts in 2021 in which he had six sacks and 13 hits at quarterback. But he totaled just 21 tackles, one sack, three quarterbacks and a forced fumble in 16 games with the Bears last season.
The Bears were expected to revamp a defensive line that contributed only 20 team sacks. Cutting Muhammad, who will turn 28 in March, saves nearly $4 million in salary cap space and comes with just $500,000 in dead cap space, according to Spotrac.
#Linebacker #Edwards #reportedly #agrees #3year #deal #Mercury #News