Bears Sign First Big Free Agent of the Offseason

The Chicago Bears are making it a point of emphasis to add playmakers to their defense.
Nov 20, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Philadelphia Eagles safety Kevin Byard (31) takes the
Nov 20, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Philadelphia Eagles safety Kevin Byard (31) takes the / Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears haven’t wasted any time addressing their defense ahead of Monday’s legal tampering period. The Bears re-signed star cornerback Jaylon Johnson to a massive four-year contract extension on Friday after giving him the franchise tag.

However, Chicago did not stop there with the Johnson extension. The Bears found their new starting safety, signing Kevin Byard to a two-year contract worth $15 million, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

The Bears hosted the 31-year-old defensive back for a visit on Friday as the team searched for an Eddie Jackson replacement.

Byard was released by the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this month after he was acquired last October from the Tennessee Titans. The veteran safety didn’t make a huge impact on Philly’s defense as many fans expected him to. 

However, it’s tough to blame him for Philly’s woes as they switched defensive coordinators late in the season.

The two-time Pro Bowl safety was the Eagles’ last line of defense as he racked up 75 combined tackles, three pass deflections, and an interception. Byard struggled slightly in pass coverage, as he had a 75.6 completion percentage allowed on targets, a 103.3 pass rating allowed when targeted, and gave up two receiving touchdowns. 

Even though Byard didn’t play like a Pro Bowl safety last season with the Eagles, Bears fans will see him as an upgrade over Jackson. If you look at Byard’s PFF grades from 2023 and compare them to Jackson’s grades, it’s a noticeable difference.

We should expect the Bears to continue to add playmakers to the defense this offseason as they look to compete in a competitive NFC North this upcoming season.

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