Linebacker TJ Edwards is getting his big payday after entering the league as an undrafted free agent.
The Chicago Bears have agreed to sign the former Philadelphia Eagle to a three-year deal worth $19.5 million, $12 million of which is fully guaranteed, according to ESPN.
The 26-year-old went undrafted and was selected by the Eagles in 2019, where he played all 16 games, starting in four. But these past two seasons with Philadelphia have seen Edwards take a leap in production.
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In 2021, Edwards totaled 130 combined tackles (five for loss) with one interception, one fumble recovery and five passes defensed in 16 games.
He followed that up last season with 159 tackles to lead the Eagles in that category. It was also the third most in franchise history.
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He also had two sacks, 10 tackles for loss, seven passes defensed and one fumble recovery in all 17 regular-season games for Philadelphia.
The Wisconsin product fills a need for Chicago since last season’s trade of Roquan Smith before the NFL deadline to the Baltimore Ravens. Smith was third in the league in total tackles, but Edwards was seventh. The Bears will expect production to stay the same.
Edwards will likely be paired with Jack Sanborn, a fellow Badger, at middle linebacker and Nicholas Morrow on the strong side.
With Edwards out, Nakobe Dean, the heralded product of the Georgia Bulldogs who lost the 2022 NFL Draft to the Eagles in the third round, will have a chance to establish himself as the team’s middle linebacker. Dean played in all 17 games, but was on the field for only 3% of the team’s defensive snaps. He was primarily a member of the special team.
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Kyzir White and postseason star Haason Reddick also return for the Eagles.
The Eagles are losing another defensive contributor from last season, as defensive tackle Javon Hargrave agreed to a four-year, $84 million deal with the San Francisco 49ers.
Edwards has 389 tackles, five sacks, 20 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles in 61 NFL games over his early career.
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All new free agent offers can be processed on March 15, which is the start of the new league year.