Column: Chicago Bears’ aggressive start to free agency has one common thread — young players entering their prime years

Ryan Poles wanted to pay Roquan Smith last summer — he just didn’t want to get to the $20 million annual salary the linebacker desired. So the Chicago Bears opened 2023 free agency by dropping even more money in the position.

The Bears agreed to terms with three players Monday after the two-day negotiating window opened leading into the official start of free agency at 3 p.m. Wednesday. The headliner is Tremaine Edmunds, whom the Buffalo Bills drafted with the 16th pick in 2018 — eight slots after the Bears picked Smith.

Edmunds figures to be the weak-side linebacker alongside new middle linebacker T.J. Edwards, who also agreed to terms. That makes Jack Sanborn a likely candidate to play on the strong side. The Bears also agreed to terms with guard Nate Davis, the first piece in a makeover of the offensive line.

Poles has talked about being calculated in free agency, and the first three additions have at least one significant trait in common: All appear to be entering the prime years of their career. That’s critical for a team like the Bears that isn’t one or two pieces away from serious contention.

Edmunds, a former Virginia Tech star who progressed over the last five seasons with the Bills, was the youngest player in his draft class, selected a week before his 20th birthday. He turns 25 in May.

Edwards, a Lake Villa native and Wisconsin alumnus who led the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles in tackles last season, turns 27 in August. Davis doesn’t turn 27 until September, so the Bears can remain youthful even with a heavy push in free agency.

The Bears are betting on Edmunds’ skills being unlocked in coach Matt Eberflus’ scheme, which explains the four-year, $72 million contract with $41.8 million fully guaranteed. The $18 million annual …read more

Source:: The Denver Post

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