Chicago Bears address linebacker corps on Day 1 of free agency

Chicago Bears-Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bears-Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports / Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
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Chicago Bears add T.J. Edwards and Tremaine Edmunds in free agency

Monday marked the beginning of the NFL's legal tampering period, and the Chicago Bears quickly addressed one of the roster's biggest weak spots in the team's linebacker core. Almost immediately after the negotiation period opened, the Chicago Bears agreed to a three-year, $19.5 million contract with linebacker T.J. Edwards, and later agreed with linebacker Tremaine Edmunds to a massive four-year, $72 million contract.

Just last season, the Chicago Bears starting linebackers included Jack Sanborn, Nick Morrow, and Matthew Adams, and while Sanborn is slated to return in a starting capacity, the linebacking core will look dramatically different next season, and even has the potential to become one of the best units across the entire league.

Both free agent signings are a great combination of youth and experience, as Edwards and Edmunds have logged over a combined 130 total starts in the NFL. Edwards, 26 years old, and Edmunds, 24 years old, come from vastly different origins in the NFL, with Edwards joining the league as an undrafted free agent in 2019, while Edmunds was the 16th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

The newly added Chicago Bears linebackers will undoubtedly be a big part of how head coach Matt Eberflus looks to rebuild a defense that struggled a season ago, especially after finishing in the bottom four of total yards allowed in 2022. With a new linebacking core, and one of the best young secondaries from a season ago, it appears that the Bears will have an incredibly solid defensive back seven next season and beyond.

Both Edwards and Edmunds have ties to Chicago, making their respective moves less surprising in hindsight. Most notably, T.J. Edwards, a Lake Villa, Illinois native, gets the chance to team up with Jack Sanborn, who was not only his college teammate for a season at Wisconsin but has so far had a similar career arc after being signed as an undrafted free agent just last offseason.

Tremaine Edmunds' ties to the Chicago Bears are less obvious, but for a player who has garnered comparisons to Brian Urlacher since his pre-draft process in 2018, the former Buffalo Bill will have a chance to challenge this pro comp as a member of Urlacher's former team.