Is this Chicago Bears defender playing into a 2022 contract?

Parker Hurley
Chicago Bears - Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bears - Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports /

With the Chicago Bears out of the playoffs, many fans have wanted the team to bench veterans in favor of younger names on the roster. One name that has not been able to get enough playing time for fans liking is Thomas Graham. Graham has been behind Kindle Vildor, Jaylon Johnson, and Artie Burns on the depth chart. Despite playing well when Burns missed time with COVID, the team went right back to Burns, who replaced Vildor after Vildor was benched.

This annoyed fans in some regard considering Graham is a rookie and Burns is in his fifth NFL season. However, even though he is a veteran he is a former first-round pick, and the Bears may have found something with him.

Early into his time with Chicago, it looked like his career was heading into disaster. Burns was beaten badly bad by Josh Reynolds on the first drive he played. However, that would be the last touchdown that he allowed in the next five weeks.

Burns responded strong and shut down the Lions the rest of the way. He bounced back with a great game against the Cardinals, although there was weather impacting that game. Burns gave up a couple of catches against Green Bay, but also had to stuff in the run game.

Then against Seattle and New York Burns has allowed one catch and has four pass breakups. He has been a ball magnet and almost came down with an interception as well.

According to PFF Burns had a 120 passer rating allowed during his time in Pittsburgh. That number is down to 95 in Chicago. He also has more pass breakups this year than his final two seasons in Pittsburgh combined.

Artie Burns is not going to get some big day where he sets the market and changes his life. However, he may have played himself from a bust that fans did not want to see to a potential starter in 2022. Burns is expected to be a free agent, and the Bears do not have a clue who will be deciding which players stay or go.

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Still, any new decision-maker that walks in and watches the final five games of the Chicago Bears season is going to say who is that when they see Artie Burns. No fans were calling it, but Burns starting over Graham actually may have helped the Bears future.