Joel Iyiegbuniwe earns the Chicago Bears third inside linebacker spot
The Chicago Bears have one of the best inside linebacker tandems when both are healthy. The problem is, Danny Trevathan has proven to struggle with injuries over the years. None of them are related in a way we can scream “injury prone”, but we have to assume the third linebacker in the Chicago Bears defense will see action throughout the year.
Roquan Smith has also been known to miss games over the course of a season. Last year we saw the emergence of both Nick Kwiatkoski and Kevin Pierre-Louis. Kwiatkoski was awarded a three-year, $21 million dollars contract from the Las Vegas Raiders. He will slot in as the starting inside linebacker for the Raiders. Pierre-Louis also moved on from the Bears in the offseason and is now earning $3 million dollars on a one-year deal with the Washington Football Team.
With both no longer on the roster, it leaves an opening for an important spot on this defense. The guy who will take on the role and succeed next is Joel “Iggy” Iyiebuniwe. He has yet to start a game over his first two seasons, but he has been putting in the work this offseason.
He has also stated all he can focus on is football and reaching greatness. This is the year he starts to put that in motion. Iyiegbuniwe is on his rookie deal and under contract through the 2021 season. Could he even prove valuable enough to be brought back and the eventual replacement for Danny Trevathan who will be 32 years old by that time? The answer is yes. If Kwiatkoski can do it, Iyiegbuniwe can do it too.
He has been an important part of the Bears special teams since entering the league. He played on 75 percent of the special teams snaps in 2018 and 72 percent in 2019. He has not seen more than three percent of the defensive snaps, but that will change in 2020. I expect him to see between 10-15 percent of the snaps this season.