The Bears agreed to a three-year deal with linebacker T.J. Edwards just minutes into the league’s legal tampering period, a source confirmed. He’ll make a guaranteed $12 million over three years on a deal that could be worth as much as $19.5 million, the source said.
Edwards is a Lake Villa native — he played at Lakes Community High School — who attended Wisconsin before being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2019. He had 159 tackles in a breakout 2022 for the NFC champions, one year after posting 130. He’s started 47 games over the past three seasons.
He wore the “green dot” last year, allowing him to communicate with the defensive coordinator and call plays in the huddle. Linebacker Nicholas Morrow, who is entering free agency, did that for the Bears last year.
He played middle linebacker last year in Philadelphia. He could stay there with the Bears and play instead of fellow Wisconsin alum Jack Sanborn, or he could move to the weak side. Bears head coach Matt Eberflus has said he likes longer players outside, and Edwards is just 6-foot-1, 242 pounds.
Sanborn started six games last season after the Bears traded Roquan Smith. Edwards’ contract could prove to be a bargain by comparison; Smith will make $20 million per year in each of his first three seasons with the Ravens.
Pro Football Focus gave Edwards grades above 75.0 in both run defense in pass coverage last year. Only three other linebackers in the NFL could say the same.
The Bears vowed to add playmakers with their league-most cap space, and set about doing it Monday. They still figure to add at least one starter — if not two — on both the offensive and defensive lines.