Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff: 20 Days with Mark Carrier

Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears / Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports
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Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears / Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Carrier has dominant rookie season, multiple Pro Bowls with Chicago Bears

Upon joining the Chicago Bears for the 1990 season, Carrier immediately became a starter at the free safety position and even turned in perhaps his best season as a pro. Starting in all 16 games in the secondary, Carrier finished his rookie campaign with a staggering 10 interceptions, a total that led the league during the regular season. Alongside five forced fumbles and 122 total tackles, Carrier was named the Defensive Rookie of the Year at the end of the season, and was also selected to the Pro Bowl and was chosen as a Second-Team All-Pro player.

Carrier slotted in naturally on a star-studded defense that included a number of players from their Super Bowl run just half a decade prior, including the likes of Dan Hampton, Richard Dent, William Perry, Mike Singletary, and Ron Rivera. He also played over the top of cornerback Donnell Woolford, who was previously on Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff representing the number 21.

Nonetheless, Carrier seamlessly transitioned to the NFL and help the defense and team as a whole reach the playoffs after finishing the regular season first place in the division with an 11-5 record. In the team's two playoff games, Carrier recorded another interception, pushing his career total to 11 heading into his second season.

Over the next few years, Carrier struggled to approach his stellar interception total of his rookie season. In his second year, his interception dropped to two, but he was voted to his second consecutive Pro Bowl after tallying a fumble recovery and 93 total tackles on the year. The team made the postseason again after posting another 11-5 record, but the team last in their first playoff game.

In 1992, Carrier experienced somewhat of a down season, finishing the year with zero interceptions, but this is not surprising when looking at the general struggles that the team experienced during the year. In what would be head coach Mike Ditka's final year with the team, the Bears managed just five wins on the season, and the traces of the great 1985 defense started to slowly fade away.

By 1993, many of the familiar faces had been replaced by newer names, but Carrier remained a constant difference-maker in the secondary. In 16 contests, he doubled his interception total of the previous two seasons combined, finishing with four picks and 91 total tackles. Accordingly, he was named to his third Pro Bowl, an impressive feat for a player finishing their fourth season.

Over the next couple of seasons, Carrier's production began to wane despite helping the team return to the playoffs in 1994. From '94 to '95, Carrier logged 30 total starts but produced just three total turnovers and 141 total tackles.

During the 1996 season, Carrier's seventh as a pro, the safety had somewhat of a resurgent season to the tune of two interceptions, a fumble recovery, and 51 total tackles. Following the year, the long-time Bear became an unrestricted free agent, when he elected to sign a new deal with the division-rival Detroit Lions.