The Chicago Bears wrapped their 2022 season, where they finished 3-14 and lost their final 10 games of the year. But the future is bright heading into this 2023 offseason, as GM Ryan Poles has the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, a boatload of salary cap space ($118 million) and a franchise quarterback in Justin Fields.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be counting down our 15 Most Impactful Bears for the 2022 season. We’ll recap their 2022 season and look ahead to how they factor into 2023.
At No. 2 is Eddie Jackson, who not only enjoyed a renaissance year, but provided needed stability in the secondary.
Experience: 6th year
2022 cap hit: $15,090,000
- 80 tackles (1 for loss)
- 4 interceptions
- 6 passes defensed
- 2 forced fumbles
Throughout 2022, the Bears said goodbye to defensive stalwarts such as Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Danny Trevathan, Roquan Smith, and Robert Quinn. Almost every key veteran from the previous regime was either traded or released. Everyone except Eddie Jackson. The former All-Pro safety looked to be a shell of himself over the last few seasons and was known more for his bloated contract and tackling issues than his ball hawking abilities.
But in the midst of a transition year, Jackson’s playmaking abilities returned. Playing as a true free safety once again, he notched four interceptions, the most since 2018. His six passes defensed were also the most since 2018 as well. He made a key pick right off the bat in Week 1 to set the Bears up for a victory and didn’t look back. His opposing quarterback rating plummeted from a disastrous 143.6 in 2021, to 66.4 in 2022, according to Pro Football Reference.
Jackson also only allowed one touchdown the entire season, another total that hadn’t been seen since 2018. He really did turn back the clock to his All-Pro season, but one can argue last year was more impressive. Jackson wasn’t playing with the same talent as that 2018 group and had to help carry this team rather than be another cog in the machine. For his efforts, Jackson was named a permanent team captain following the Quinn trade during the season. The only downside to the season came in Week 12 when Jackson was lost for the season due to a foot injury.
This time last year, projecting Jackson to be on the 2023 team was laughable at best. Given his contract and recent play, his departure seemed all but certain. Things can change fast, though. Jackson does carry a hefty cap hit of over $17 million next year and his return still isn’t guaranteed. While the Bears do have plenty of cap space, restructuring his deal could be on the table.
Still, with what Jackson has been able to do under Matt Eberflus and his leadership with players like Jaquan Brisker, it would be a surprise to see him released or traded. The Bears need playmakers and Jackson showed he’s back to being one of them in Eberflus’ defense. Expect Jackson to once again be one of the defensive leaders as the Bears look to take a significant step in 2023.
15 Most Impactful Bears of 2022
We’re counting down our 15 Most Impactful Bears of 2022. Check back every day.